Jobs: Employment Falls for Third Straight Month in August

(Reuters) – U.S.
employment likely fell for a third straight month in August as more
temporary census jobs ended and cautious businesses scaled back hiring,
an outcome that could pressure the Federal Reserve to prop up growth.

Nonfarm payrolls fell 100,000
after declining 131,000 in July, according to a Reuters survey. Private
payrolls, a better barometer of the labor market’s underlying health,
are seen rising only 41,000, well below the 71,000 jobs added in July.

The Labor Department will release the closely watched employment report for August at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Against
the backdrop of weak data such as housing, larger-than-expected job
losses last month could heighten fears the economy is sliding back into
recession and push the Fed — the U.S. central bank — closer to
launching a fresh round of bond buying.

A
downbeat report would also further dim chances Democrats would hold
their majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in
mid-term elections in November.

Concerns
of a double-dip recession have diminished somewhat this week as data
showed strength in manufacturing and gains in consumer spending but the
sluggish pace of growth has kept investors on edge.

"The
bar is set fairly low for Friday’s employment report, but if we get a
much larger decline, with weakness particularly evident in private
employment, that would raise the odds of a double-dip recession," said
Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester,
Pennsylvania.

Despite the expected
sharp drop in employment, the jobless rate probably only rose a touch to
9.6 percent from 9.5 percent in July. This is mainly the result of a
shrinking labor force as discouraged workers give up the search for
jobs.

According to government data,
temporary employment for the decennial census fell about 116,391
between the July and August survey periods for the employment report.

While
the unwinding of temporary census jobs has been a major drag on
payrolls, an uncertain economic outlook has also caused businesses to
pare hiring.

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