Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added just over 230,000 jobs during the month of August, the Labor Department announced Friday in its monthly jobs report -- way off the mark that most experts were expecting.
The department said jobs increased by 235,000 for the month. Most economists predicted the report would show between 700,000 and 720,000 new jobs.
"In August, notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services," the department said in a statement. "Employment in retail trade declined over the month."
Friday's report also showed that the national unemployment rate declined by 0.2% to 5.2%.
"The number of unemployed persons edged down to 8.4 million, following a large decrease in July," the department noted. "Both measures are down considerably from their highs at the end of the February-April 2020 recession. However, they remain above their levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 246,000 in August to 3.2 million but is 2.1 million higher than in February 2020. These long-term unemployed accounted for 37.4% of the total unemployed in August."
President Joe Biden told reporters Friday that the underwhelming report was almost certainly affected by a recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases, which health officials say is being fueled by the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant and people going unvaccinated.
"There's no question the Delta variant is why today's job report isn't stronger," he said. "I was hoping for a higher number, but next week I'll lay out the next steps we're going to need to combat the Delta variant to address some of those fears and concerns."
"This jobs report shows the steps we've taken, passing the rescue plan and vaccinating 175 million people, making our economy capable of growing and adding jobs even in the face of this growing Delta surge," he added.
The Labor Department noted in its report Friday that there have been 17 million jobs added since April 2020, but the total number remains 5.3 million jobs away from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
The largest gains in August were seen in professional and business services (74,000), transportation and warehousing (53,000), private education (40,000) and manufacturing (37,000).
ADP and Moody's Analytics reported on Wednesday that the domestic economy added 374,000 private jobs during August.