Private employers added 132,000 jobs in August, a new report from payroll firm ADP said on Wednesday.
Wages, meanwhile, grew at an annual rate of 7.6% for the month. Gains were most pronounced in the leisure and hospitality industries, followed by trade, transportation and utilities.
“Our data suggests a shift toward a more conservative pace of hiring, possibly as companies try to decipher the economy’s conflicting signals,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP. “We could be at an inflection point, from super-charged job gains to something more normal.”
ADP’s national employment report is a collaboration with the firm’s research arm and the Stanford Digital Economy Lab that aims to provide more real-time data on the job market.
It is the second of four reports this week on the state of the labor market, which is a key factor in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that 11.2 million jobs were open at the end of July, an increase from 10.9 million in June and a sign that the job market remains very tight.
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On Thursday, the department will issue the weekly unemployment claims data and then on Friday it will report the job numbers for August. After July came in hotter than expected, with 528,000 jobs added, economists are forecasting a pullback to around 300,000 jobs in August.
Analysts say that employers continue to post for new positions, although some have cut back on their overall hiring plans.
“The momentum, to me, it feels like it is picking up a bit,” says John Gulnac, vice president and country practice lead for USA Direct Hire/Search at Adecco. “Different sectors of this economy are still in growth mode and need workers.”
The concern for the Fed is that continued demand that exceeds the supply of workers will drive wages higher and, along with overall prices of goods and services remaining elevated, that will complicate the central bank’s job in fighting inflation. But labor market experts say that while wages have risen, companies are not just throwing cash at applicants.
“I don’t think right now we’re seeing a spiral where wage inflation pushes up inflation overall,” Lightcast Senior Economist Layla O’Kane said. “Wages overall haven’t increased as much as they have in specific sectors of the economy.”
And, in another report out Wednesday, Morning Consult says the share of American adults reporting lost pay or income fell to 10.5% in August from 11.7% a month earlier.
“The labor market has so far withstood aggressive rate hikes and growing economic headwinds,” said John Leer, chief economist at Morning Consult. “This month’s drop in lost pay is positive news for workers in the short term, but tackling inflation without spurring major layoffs will remain a tricky needle for the Fed to thread.”