(Payrolls article updated with additional detail and commentary.)
Nonfarm payrolls lost 54,000 jobs in August. Consensus projections provided by Briefing.com were calling for the headline number to drop by 120,000. The smaller-than-expected decline indicates the rate of job loss is easing.
Wall Street reacted quickly. Futures for the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500, gained 1.2% in pre-market trading. The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) and PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQQ) each pushed up 1.1% ahead of the opening bell.Further evidence of stabilization in the labor market came from a government report Thursday that showed fewer Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week than had been expected. Temporary census-related jobs dropped by 114,000. Excluding census workers and other government workers, the private sector grew by 67,000 in the month, easily topping expectations for a gain of 30,000, and less than the revised 107,000 private-sector job gains in July. The report also showed that 123,000 fewer jobs were lost in June and July than previously thought. The nationwide unemployment rate of 9.6% represents the highest rate since May, and was in line with expectations. Average hourly earnings edged up by 0.3%, or 3 cents, to $19.08. That beat expectations for a 0.1% uptick.