Payrolls in the U.S. climbed less than projected in August after smaller gains the prior two months, indicating companies are being deliberate in their hiring as they wait for a pickup in demand. The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell as more people left the labor force.
The gain of 169,000 workers last month followed a revised 104,000 rise in July that was smaller than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 96 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an August increase of 180,000. Unemployment dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest since December 2008.
Treasuries and stock futures rose as investors curbed bets that the Federal Reserve will start to reduce its $85 billion monthly pace of bond purchases at its Sept. 17-18 meeting.
“The Fed is certainly going to want to get more information before they make this move, particularly given how violent the financial-market reaction has been to tapering,” said Julia Coronado, New York-based chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas and a former Fed economist. “You’re not going to play Russian roulette with the U.S. economy and risk another backlash in interest rates.”
The benchmark U.S. 10-year yield fell 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 2.88 percent at 8:58 a.m. in New York. The yield earlier touched 3.005 percent, breaching 3 percent for the first time since July 2011. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month gained 0.6 percent to 1,662.40.
The unemployment rate, derived from a Labor Department survey of households rather than employers, was forecast to hold at 7.4 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median.