The U.S. economy added 169,000 jobs last month, according to government data released Friday morning, as the grinding recovery continues to disappoint.
The Labor Department’s monthly estimate of hiring was weaker than many analysts had expected and offered little clarity about the direction of the economy. Although the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7.3 percent, the drop was the result of people leaving the work force. The government also lowered its estimate of the number of jobs created in June and July by 74,000.
“I don’t like this jobs report,” said Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “I have a hard time seeing a labor market improving at the pace we need.”
The lackluster report likely will be a critical consideration as officials at the Federal Reserve meet later this month to decide whether to begin scaling back the amount of stimulus it has been pumping into the economy. The central bank has been buying $85 billion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities each month to help push down long-term interest rates and spur demand among consumers and businesses. The Fed has said it will not pull back until the recovery strengthens, including the job market.
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