(AP) — Hiring perked up in August as employers added 128,000 jobs, pulling the unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent and flashing a Labor Day weekend message of an economic expansion that still has staying power.
The latest snapshot, released Friday by the Labor Department, was a bit brighter than expected and should ease any fears that the expansion that began in late 2001 is in danger of fizzling out.
Still, there are obvious weak spots: Construction spending plunged in July by the largest margin in nearly five years, the Commerce Department reported, another sign of the cooldown in the once sizzling housing market.
In another report, the Institute for Supply Management said the manufacturing sector grew at a slower clip in August than in July.
The tally of new jobs last month was slightly stronger than the 125,000 that economists were forecasting. The nation's unemployment rate dropped down a notch from a five-month high of 4.8 percent in July. Job gains for June and July also turned out to be better than previously estimated. In June, employers boosted payrolls by 134,000 positions and in July they added an additional 121,000.
"Today's (employment) report was solid and indicates that the economy is not falling away very quickly, but it certainly wasn't so spectacular that it renewed oversized fears of inflation," said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at LaSalle Bank. "The report is right on the mark. Goldilocks may be coming. The economy is not too hot nor too cold," he said.
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