The United States gained only 235,000 jobs last month

US stocks and bonds dropped early Friday as traders assessed surprisingly weak jobs data at a time when the Federal Reserve considers a reduction in economic stimulus.

Hiring downshifted abruptly in August with the smallest gain in seven months. Nonfarm payrolls increased by just 235,000 after an upwardly revised gain of 1.05 million in July, the Department of Labor reported.

The August figure was well below the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists of 733,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2%.

“This is a major miss and screams Delta disruption,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, referring to the sharp rise in new coronavirus cases in the United States.

“The Fed is currently much more focused on the employment recovery, implying that today’s very weak number will likely sway the Fed to a November taper, if not later.”

The Fed will meet on Sept 20 and 21, when market watchers expect to hear clearer indications about when it will start to “taper” or reduce the massive stimulus that has helped keep the US recovery from the pandemic on track.

“I don’t think [the new jobs data] is going to change much for the Fed taper timeline,” said Zhiwei Ren, portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management. “The projection, the consensus is November, December — I think nothing changes.

“We have a number that was weak, but if we look below the surface, it’s quite strong actually because of wage growth.”

Friday’s report indicated the drag on hiring from the Delta variant of Covid-19 was most pronounced in the leisure and hospitality sector.


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