No August job growth as unemployment rate holds at 9.1%


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The U.S. added no new jobs in August as employers cut back hiring and trimmed work hours of existing employees, the government said Friday.

The latest snapshot of the labor market provided more evidence that the economic recovery remains threatened by the unusually weak labor market.


The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1%. It was the first time in a year that the nation’s monthly payroll employment tally showed no growth.

But the August report was affected by the temporary strike of 45,000 Verizon workers during the week when the Labor Department surveys employers.

Hiring may also have been held back by the turmoil over the debt-ceiling fight and its effect on Wall Street and public confidence. Even accounting for the Verizon strike, many economists were expecting job growth of around 70,000 for August.

But the report showed little or no job growth across the board, with the exception of healthcare services. Government continued to cut back, and manufacturing payrolls were down slightly. Making matters worse, the government revised down job growth in July from 117,000 to 85,000, and said employers added just 20,000 jobs in June, not 46,000.

In all, the economy has added an average of just 35,000 jobs in the last three months –- a figure so small that most analysts would consider it a rounding error. In addition, the government said the August report showed private employers trimmed the work hours of employees a notch, to 34.2 hours. The average weekly earnings for all private workers also dropped, down 3 cents to $23.09.


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-- Don Lee, reporting from Washington