US unemployment falls to 5.1 percent

  • 05/09/2015
US unemployment falls to 5.1 percent

The US unemployment rate has fallen to 5.1 percent, the lowest since early 2008, after the economy pumped out a modest 173,000 new jobs last month.

Although the jobs number was well below what was forecast, the data - coupled with upward revisions to the two previous months - showed an economy continuing to expand healthily despite the global slowdown.

But given the worries that China's problems will slow global growth, economists said that the data, while strong, will not be enough to push the Federal Reserve to begin raising interest rates when it meets later this month.

Analysts had expected on average that 217,000 new jobs would have been added in August, and some voiced disappointment in the actual number.

But they noted that jobs growth in the world's largest economy has now averaged 221,000 for the past three months, and that August figures are often distorted by seasonal shifts and almost always revised sharply upwards.

"The weakness in August employment should not be over-interpreted," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at economic consultancy IHS.

"The August data on jobs are often distorted by seasonal factors, e.g. a surge in teachers being hired at the start of the school year."

The jobless rate hit the lowest level since April 2008, when the country was plunging into recession.

The sharp one-month fall from 5.3 percent in July was helped by the Labour Department revising the job creation numbers for June and July up by a total of 44,000 positions.

But the data also included a rise of 261,000 in the number of people who have dropped out of the labour force completely.