The housing market and manufacturing industries have shown signs of improvement, but much of the recent growth has been supported by government programs that have expired or will soon.
With consumers cutting their debts and the job market stagnant, many economists worry that without new hiring, the economy's nascent recovery could slow down in the first half of next year.
Hiring activity remains at historic lows, with steep declines across most sectors, including mining and logging, construction and retail trade, according to Friday's report. Overall, hiring is down 28% since its July 2006 peak, with employers hiring 4.01 million workers in August.
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