U.S. hiring cools; wages, hours offer silver lining

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in August, with retail hiring declining for a seventh straight month, but strong wage gains should support consumer spending and keep the economy expanding moderately amid rising threats from trade tensions.

The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed a rebound in the workweek after it shrunk to its shortest in nearly two years in July, suggesting that companies were not yet laying off workers.

Economists said the report was consistent with an economy that was slowing, but probably not flirting with a recession as has been signaled by financial markets, especially an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve. The economy’s waning fortunes have been blamed on the Trump administration’s year-long trade war with China, which has eroded business sentiment and plunged U.S. and global manufacturing into recession.

“The softening in job growth should surprise no one but it doesn’t mean the economy is headed toward a recession right away,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Households still have the income to keep spending.”

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