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US economy adds 201,000 jobs in August as strong hiring continues

A job seeker shakes hands with a representative during a National Career Fairs event in Tampa, Florida, on May 23, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke Sharrett.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy added jobs for the 95th straight month in August, a record-setting streak. The nation added a robust 201,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, and the national unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest levels in half a century.

Wages grew at 2.9 percent in the past year, the best growth since 2009 and an encouraging sign that wages might finally be moving higher after years of sluggish gains. But the last time unemployment was this low in the dot-com boom, wage growth was significantly faster -- well above 3.5 percent.

Hiring has been strong in nearly every industry this year from manufacturing to health care. Even retail, which many predicted would decline as stores like Toys R Us shuttered for good, is still adding jobs.

This year is on track to be the best for job gains since 2015. The U.S. economy averaged 215,000 jobs a month in the first half of the year, a sign companies continue to grow and don't anticipate a downturn anytime soon. 

Job gains in August suggest that President Donald Trump's trade war has yet to have a widespread hit to workers, although a handful of companies have announced layoffs already and more have threatened to ax jobs if Trump moves forward with additional tariffs, especially on China.

Trump has been touting the low unemployment rate and strong job gains since he took office as proof he is delivering results and his critics are wrong about him.

Unemployment for African Americans, Hispanics and Americans without high school degrees is at or near an all-time low, according to the Labor Department.

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This article was written by Heather Long, a reporter for The Washington Post.

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