Data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday showed that the economy added 169,000 jobs in August—below the Bloomberg economic forecast of 180,000 jobs—though unemployment remained relatively unchanged at 7.3 percent.
Employment in retail and healthcare increased in August. Employment in information, however, declined during the month. The retail industry added 44,000 jobs, while the healthcare sector added 33,000 jobs.
“While the jobs numbers weren’t as strong as anticipated, they indicate a more positive trend,” National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “We are expecting further signs of strengthening in the second half of the year. Retailers are making headway but challenges remain. Slow wage growth and downward jobs revisions continue to indicate a reluctant economy.”
The Labor Department reported last month that the economy added 162,000 jobs in July, though the agency revised the figure to 104,000 and lowered the June figure to 172,000 from 188,000, ABC News reports.
“Some of this is due to the aging of the workforce but it reflects a weak labor market,” Stephen Bronars, a senior economist at Welch Consulting, said, according to ABC News. “The unemployment rate is declining for all the wrong reasons—people are dropping out of the workforce.”
Participation in the labor market fell to 63.2 percent last month, the lowest since 1978. Since the beginning of 2010, labor market participation has fallen by 1.6 percentage points. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, however, has fallen to a five-year low.