Hiring slows: America gains 151,000 jobs in August

Unemployment rate stayed 4.9 percent

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – American employers slowed down hiring in August.

The U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in August, a decent gain but a lot less than the 275,000 new jobs in July.

The unemployment rate remained at 4.9%. It fell below 5% earlier this year for the first time since 2008.

Wage growth slowed a bit after showing signs of momentum in previous months. Paychecks grew 2.4% last month compared to a year ago. Wages have been one of the slowest to grow in the right direction. Their slow pace is a key reason why the U.S. economic recovery has not been felt by vast pockets of the population.

America's economic growth has averaged about 1% in the first half of this year. However, experts are hoping that growth will pick up in the second half.

The August job numbers are critical for the Federal Reserve, whose leaders hinted that they could use it as a guide in potentially raising the the key interest rate.

A Fed rate hike was likely a given only if the report would have been very strong. However, August job gains fell below expectations.

Still, America's job market is maintaining some momentum this year following two years of very strong gains. The U.S. economy has added over a 1 million jobs so far this year.