Businesses hiring is picking up, but not enough to make up for the massive losses of temporary government jobs.
The economy lost a total of 54,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, matching the revised estimate of jobs lost in July.
The bulk of the losses came from the public sector, as the government cut 114,000 temporary census workers. It was the third straight month that census worker layoffs caused an overall decline in jobs.
But the report showed some improvements in the jobs picture, a welcome piece of good news among a slew of disappointing economic readings in recent months.
"August's payroll report is reassuring," said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics. "While economic growth may have slowed, it is not collapsing."
The overall losses were not as bad as expected, as economists surveyed by Briefing.com had predicted a loss of 120,000 jobs in the month.
And upward revisions for June and July showed there were 123,000 additional job gains in those months than previously reported.