There was a big slowdown in U.S. hiring during the month of August as the health crisis took a toll on the economy.
Employers added only 235,000 new jobs last month -that was far below estimates for more than 700,000 jobs, and a huge drop from the upwardly revised 1.05 million new hires seen in July, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.
In fact, August saw the smallest job creation in seven months.
Sectors of the economy that are largely behind the reopening were the hardest hit.
Restaurants and bars, which had been the main engine of re-hiring in recent months, shed 42,000 positions in August.
Retailers also posted a job outflow - losing 29,000 jobs.
Government payrolls were also in the negative, with state government education jobs down by 21,000. The Labor Department said recent fluctuations due to the health crisis have made it statistically hard to gauge employment changes in that sector.
The slowdown in hiring came amid another wave in the global health crisis....with hospitalizations and deaths spiking across the U.S. - largely among the unvaccinated.
But there were some bright spots in Friday's report. The unemployment rate fell to a 17-month low of 5.2 percent, long-term unemployment was down, and average hourly earnings surged last month.
That, however, will hardly be enough to change the Federal Reserve's stance that it will move slowly before curtailing the massive bond-buying program that it's been using to help out the economic rebound.