U.S. job growth slowed in August but remained healthy, buoyed by hiring in the professional and business services industry as well as the health care sector.
Employers added 315,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, in line with the 300,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. That marks the lowest monthly gain since April 2021 and is a major decline from the 526,000 jump recorded in July.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, unexpectedly ticked up to a six-month high of 3.7% as the labor force participation rate increased.
“The market will like the broad-based gains in jobs as both goods-producing and services jobs rose in August,” said Jeffrey Roach, the chief economist for LPL Financial.
Although job gains were broad-based last month, the professional and business services industry led the way in hiring, adding another 68,000 workers last month. Within the industry, notable gains took place in computer systems design and related services with 14,400 added, followed by management and technical consulting services (13,100), architectural and engineering services (9,500) and scientific research and development services (6,000).
Legal services actually shed 8,900 workers last month.
Employment in the industry has grown by about 1.1 million workers over the last year.
Health care accounted for the second-largest area of growth in August, with payrolls climbing by 48,200. The increases were widespread across the industry. Offices of physicians added 15,200 workers, and nursing and residential care facilities rose by 11,600 workers.
Despite this growth, employment in the industry remains below its pre-pandemic level by about 0.2%.
Another source of job creation in August was the retail trade industry, which saw employment climb by 44,000. General merchandise stores hired 15,100 workers, while food and beverage stores onboarded another 14,600. Health and personal care stores saw employment jump by 10,000, while building material and garden supply stores added 6,800 workers to the payroll.
The leisure and hospitality industry – the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – also saw a solid jump in hiring last month, onboarding 31,000 new employees. Bars and restaurants accounted for the bulk of those gains, adding 18,200 workers in August. Hotels, meanwhile, saw payrolls grow by 4,300.
Manufacturers also hired many new employees last month, with payrolls climbing by about 22,000. Most of those stemmed from durable goods factories, which saw employment jump by 19,000.
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Employment in other industries, including construction (16,000), financial services (17,000) and mining and logging (7,000) increased in August.