WASHINGTON The U.S. foodservice industry added 24,000 jobs in August as health care hired an additional 35,000 people, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. But those gains were eclipsed — and recession fears intensified — by the DOL's report of an overall 4,000-position decline in the job market, a significant swing from the 100,000 jobs that economists had forecast to be created during the month.
As an indicator of economic vitality, the job loss could reflect rising labor costs and corporate fears about a possibly worsening credit crunch spread by the subprime-lending meltdown. The Bush administration downplayed the jobs report, pointing to the unchanged 4.6-percent unemployment rate. But some pundits said the persistently low unemployment figure could reflect a 340,000-person drop in the labor force last month as people stopped looking for work.