By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON - U.S. employers added 169,000 jobs in August and much fewer in July than previously thought. The slowdown in hiring could complicate the Federal Reserve's decision later this month on whether to slow its bond purchases.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to its lowest level in 35 years.
July's job gains were just 104,000, the fewest in more than a year and down from the previous estimate of 162,000.
Employers have added an average of 148,000 jobs in the past three months, well below the 12-month average of 184,000.