WASHINGTON — America’s employers slowed their hiring in August in the face of rising interest rates, high inflation and sluggish consumer spending but added 315,000 jobs.
The government reported today that last month’s job gain was down from 526,000 in July and below the average gain of the previous three months. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7%, from a half-century low of 3.5% in July, as more Americans came off the sidelines to look for jobs.
Even though the job gain declined from July, the report pointed to a resilient labor market and an economy that is not near recession. The number of people looking for work jumped last month, which boosted the unemployment rate because not all of them found jobs immediately. The influx of job seekers should help employers fill a near-record number of openings in the coming months.
The smaller August gain will likely be welcomed by the Federal Reserve. The Fed is rapidly raising interest rates to try to cool hiring and wage growth, which have been consistently strong. Businesses typically pass the cost of higher wages on to their customers through higher prices, thereby fueling inflation.
Fed officials hope that by raising borrowing costs across the economy, they can reduce inflation from a near-40-year high. Some economists fear, though, that the Fed is tightening credit so aggressively that it will eventually tip the economy into recession.