UNITED STATES - The U.S. economy added 169,000 jobs last month, an improvement over July’s report, but still falling just short of economists’ expectations.
Newly minted Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, sworn into office on Wednesday, put a positive spin on the numbers.
“The economy continues to grow in a slow but steady pace. Over the last year, 2.3 million jobs have been created. Forty-two consecutive months of private sector job growth to the tune of 7.5 million jobs,” Perez said.
The unemployment rate fell, largely because more than 300,000 people stopped looking for work. The number of Americans who participate in the labor force is now at its lowest rate since August 1978.
Perez said, “We have to pick up the pace. The president would be the first to say that we have to pick up the pace. That’s what his better bargain for the middle class does, investing in infrastructure, roads, investing in human capital, making sure our classrooms don’t have 40 students per teacher.”
Much of last month’s hiring was in low-paying retail and food service work. Restaurants and bars added 21,000 jobs. Retailers added 44,000 jobs. It’s cause for concern about the quality of the new jobs being created. But Perez says the economic recovery is broad-based.
“If you look at professional services, it’s moving in a very good direction, if you look at the health sector, that’s moving in a very good direction,” Perez said.
Many economists have said that a strong August jobs report would have allowed the Federal Reserve to ease its economic stimulus program. But these numbers are likely giving policy makers second thoughts.