The U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August, a bit of a slowdown from prior months but still a sign of steady expansion. Friday’s report from the Labor Department offered a few changes from the prior month on a range of measures, including the unemployment rate falling to 5.1% and an 8 cent rise in average hourly earnings.
The economy has added around 2.9 million jobs over the past 12 months. That’s down slightly from earlier this year, when the 12-month pace surpassed three million, but it is still well ahead of the 2.5 million jobs added for the year ended July 2014.
Job growth over the past three months has taken a small step down, with an average of 221,000 added per month.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since April 2008. A broader gauge of underemployment, which includes workers who have part-time positions but say they would like full-time jobs, ticked down to 10.3%.
The economy is very different for college graduates, who face only a 2.5% unemployment rate, compared with 5.5% for those who have no education beyond high school and 7.7% for those who did not complete high school.
The share of Americans in the labor force–that is, those who are working or looking for work, has remained at the lowest level since 1977. The share of Americans with jobs has risen somewhat in the past five years, but remains lower than before the recession.
When looking only at workers between ages 25 and 54, labor-force participation is at 80.7%. That’s still down from before the recession, as is the share of workers with jobs.
The report provided some signs of accelerating wages. Average weekly earnings rose 2.2% from a year earlier.
Jobless spells are lasting a little longer in August than through most of the spring and summer.
And the share of the unemployed who have been without work for more than half a year rose last month. Today’s share of the long-term jobless is higher than any of the previous three recessions.
A big drop in oil prices has squeezed the industry, which is shedding jobs.
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