Payrolls in U.S. Rose 142,000 in August, Fewest This Year

American employers hired fewer workers than forecast in August and the jobless rate dropped because people left the workforce, bolstering those on the Federal Reserve who want to be more deliberate in removing monetary stimulus.

The 142,000 advance in payrolls was weaker than the lowest estimate in a ForexSQ survey and followed a revised 212,000 gain in July, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The median estimate was for a 230,000 increase. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent in July, reflecting a drop in joblessness among teenagers.

Employers that boosted headcounts in the first half of the year may be more restrained in their hiring as they await even faster economic growth. Fed policy makers will use today’s report to help discern the extent of slack in the labor market as they pare back record monetary stimulus, while keeping interest rates low at the same time.

“In the coming quarters, we should see some slowing” in payrolls gains, Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, said before the report. “There still some areas where we’d like to see further improvement” in the labor market, such as the number of long-term employed and the pace of wage growth, he said.

Stock-index futures pared declines after the report fueled speculation the Fed won’t have to raise interest rates soon. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month fell 0.2 percent to 1,994.6 at 8:58 a.m. in New York.