Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, market investors heaved a sigh of relief on Friday, September 3, as the U.S. jobs report for August showed no signs of a double-dip recession even though private employers continued to resist hiring new workers.
Payroll jobs fell by just 54,000 in August and the unemployment rate rose by only one-tenth of a percentage point, to 9.6% from 9.5% in July, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. From May through August, the jobless rate has remained in the range of 9.5% to 9.7%.
While government employment fell due to the loss of 114,000 temporary Census jobs, private-sector payroll employment continued to trend up modestly, rising 67,000 in August compared to a revised 107,000 gain in July from the 71,000 initially reported. Revised payroll jobs data for June and July showed 123,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a decline of 100,000 in payroll jobs for August, with private employers adding 41,000 jobs, and consensus was for a 9.6% unemployment rate.
Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist for independent broker-dealer LPL Financial in Boston, called Friday’s employment summary “a Goldilocks report,” saying that it was neither hot nor cold–and yet just right for investors whose anxiety about a possible double-dip recession has shown lately in market volatility over every blip of economic data that gets released.