America’s Jobs Engine Keeps Defying Forecasts for 2017 Slowdown

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By Sho Chandra

In an economy growing at a moderate pace at best, the U.S. job market keeps on shining.

Payroll gains topped forecasts in five of the past seven months, putting the 2017 average increase of 184,000 almost on par with last year’s 187,000 and above levels typical for the eight-year expansion. Analysts expect barely any falloff from that pace in August figures due Friday, amounting to job growth about double what’s needed to keep the unemployment rate steady in the longer run.

Sustained demand for workers — highlighted by record vacancies — is pushing down unemployment and even attracting Americans who weren’t actively looking for a job. What’s more, the strong run of hiring challenges a widespread assumption in forecasts late last year: that the economy would run low on workers as it approached so-called full employment, causing payrolls to downshift.

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