The U.S. economy added about 235,000 new jobs in August according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics released on Friday, falling far short of economists’ expectations of around 728,000 new jobs.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.2 percent in August from 5.4 percent in July, the Bureau said.
The disappointing August jobs report comes after extensive employment gains in the previous two months. Employers added a million jobs in July and 962,000 in June, according to revised official estimates.
Areas that saw job gains in August include manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and private education. Leisure and hospitality jobs remained unchanged, the Bureau said, although restaurants lost 42,000 jobs over the past month.
Continued spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus has hindered some economic growth, economists told the Wall Street Journal. Overall, around 5.3 million fewer people were employed as of August than in February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread business shutdowns.
The U.S. economy has seen high levels of inflation, with consumer prices rising 5.4 percent in July 2021 over the same month in 2020. Supply shocks have also disrupted certain sectors, such as a shortage of semiconductor chips that has caused automaker GM to temporarily shut down factories.