Jobs Report Falls Short of Expectations, Stokes Recession Fears

The U.S. added just 130,000 jobs in August, falling short of economists expectations and stoking more fears of an impending recession.

Last month's shortfall pulled the average monthly job growth down to 143,000 for 2019. A year ago the monthly growth averaged about 208,000 jobs each month. That's a decline of nearly 30 percent.

Economists and financial analysts have worried publicly about the possibility of a forthcoming economic downturn, particularly since the yield curve inverted last month, and a steady decline in job growth doesn't do much to alleviate their fears. The jobs report last month was also largely bolstered by hiring for U.S. census workers, the federal government hired 25,000 temporary workers to prepare for the Census next August.

Still, Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at says there's no need to worry, yet. "Hiring in the U.S. is slowing, but not stopping. That should help to contain fears of a recession in the near-term," he wrote in his analysis. "As this report fades into memory, the expectation is that the U.S. economy will continue to grow in the months ahead, but the risks of a recession are heightened."

Other economists were also cautious. "If we weren't already talking about recession risk and already looking for signs of a slowdown, we wouldn't start today because of this jobs report," said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, told CNBC. The Dow Industrial Average also rose about 100 points after the report, signaling that investors were letting the news roll off of their backs.

But Democratic operatives, eager to show that President Trump is not the "jobs, jobs, jobs" leader he says he is, jumped on the news. "President Trump's erratic behavior and reckless economic policies are causing uncertainty and angst for the American worker. Wage growth is flat. Manufacturing is in decline. And job growth continues to slow," wrote Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez in an emailed statement. "Instead of building an economy that works for everyone, he spends all day on Twitter spewing obvious lies and petty insults."

Wall Street
Trader Peter Tachman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 23, 2019 in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty

The Trump administration was positive about the report. "The Economy is great. The only thing adding to 'uncertainty' is the Fake News!" tweeted President Donald Trump. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a statement, "another incredible jobs report. Under President Trump, the economy has defied the doubters who failed to see the incredible impact pro-growth policies would have."

Bankrate's survey of economists found that on average, they believe there's a 40 percent chance that the U.S. will be in recession before the 2020 presidential election.