Job Creation Is Slowing

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Updated on September 4 at 11:33 a.m. ET

The hotly anticipated jobs report from the Labor Department on the U.S. employment situation is now out: The unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent, and the economy added 173,000 jobs in August.

While the unemployment rate beat investor expectations, the number of jobs added missed them. The jobs report for August is being closely watched because the market believes it will play a role in whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at its mid-September meeting.

Although the number of jobs was less than 200,000, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in seven years. Economists and Fed watchers are calling it a generally positive job report. That, some believe, puts the Fed in a tricky situation because the labor data do not decisively declare the economy’s upward momentum. The reaction on Wall Street was negative this morning, with investors believing this report is good enough for the Fed to raise rates.

One highlight of the report is that the number of full-time workers in the U.S. has made a full recovery—finally reaching pre-recession levels for August. For a further breakdown of the job report, check out the many charts from our colleagues over at Quartz.