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Job Creation Stumbles as August Adds Just 156,000 Positions

by Lucy Bayly /
The share of U.S. companies raising wages more than doubled in the three months to July from a year ago.
If your wallet feels a little heavier, it may be because the share of U.S. companies raising wages more than doubled in the three months to July from a year ago.ADEK BERRY / AFP - Getty Images

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The nation's economy added 156,000 jobs for the month of August, far less than the average of 184,000 for this year.

Friday's tally from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed that August's unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent, indicating that more people have joined the search for work since they are now confident they will find a job.

As for what all those workers are getting paid — wages remain in a "hold" pattern, with barely a gain seen all year. The annualized rate for 2017 sits at just 2.5 percent, after August's 0.1 percent uptick.

“The job market is in very good shape, but wage growth is very disappointing and that’s likely to continue for over the next several months,” Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, told Reuters.

This sluggish wage growth is partly the effect of baby boomers retiring from the work force and being replaced by millennials with entry salaries — balanced out by the fact that those who do have experience are able to command the salary they want.

"All over the country, the No. 1 concern I'm hearing is they can't find qualified employees, so they're all having to raise wages to keep their employees from jumping ship," Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, told CNBC.

But when wages do finally rise, expect to see a boost in consumer spending.

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