The U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August, falling short of expectations, but the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent, its lowest level since early 2008, according to estimates released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job gains mainly occurred in health care, social assistance and financial activities. The manufacturing and mining sectors lost jobs.
Health care employment led the way with 41,000 jobs over the month, with gains mainly occurring in ambulatory health care services and hospitals. Employment in social assistance, including day care services and services for the elderly and disabled, grew by 16,000. Financial activities added 19,000 jobs.
The manufacturing sector and mining industry, however, shed 17,000 and 9,000 jobs, respectively. Employment in other industries, such as construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and government, showed little change over the month.
Compared to the prior 12 months, when employment growth averaged 247,000 per month, August job growth fell short of market expectations. However, the month did bring some wage growth, with the average hourly wage rising to $25.09, up 2.2 percent from a year ago.
These numbers are subject to revisions. Employment gains after revisions for June and July amounted to 490,000, or 44,000 more than originally reported.