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Job growth slumps in August; unemployment holds steady

Photo by Jorge Adorno / Reuters

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August as unemployment was essentially unchanged at 4.4 percent, federal economists reported Friday.

Average hourly wages rose 3 cents in August to $26.39, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

The growth missed expectations, as analysts had expected the economists would report approximately 200,000 new jobs in August.

The August report does not include any effects from Hurricane Harvey, as the collection of the data used for the report was completed before the storm struck.

Signs of improvement have characterized this summer: Including a burst of new jobs in July followed by solid growth in June.

Although President Trump has taken credit for this increasingly rosy climate, average monthly jobs gains this year, which as of July sat at 184,000, are essentially unchanged from last year's figure (187,000).

"Overwhelmingly, the trend in employment is a long-term phenomenon," said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US in New York. "Very little of this has to do with Mr. Trump or Trump policies."

And about a month ago, the country reached a recovery milestone, regaining the same employment level it had before the recession hit about 10 years earlier, accounting for changes in population. (The nation regained its pre-downturn number of jobs in April 2014.)

The jobs report, which is released by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, comes from two separate surveys. One, which produces the widely used figure of employment growth, comes from a survey of employers. The second, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate, comes from a survey of households.

This article was written by Danielle Paquette of The Washington Post.