Job growth wilted in August to 142,000, ending a six-month hiring hot streak with the worst performance of the year. But economists cautioned that it was not yet time to panic.
The report from the Labor Department on Friday was a major disappointment. Job creation fell well below analysts' expectations and dashed growing optimism that the labor market finally had settled into strong and consistent expansion.
The economy had added more than 200,000 net new jobs a month from February through July, the best stretch since 1997.
"We were celebrating a month ago … and maybe we were getting ahead of ourselves," said Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief of...