Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said Friday's employment numbers for August showed "continued economic strength and optimism" in the nation, even though they fell short of expectations.

The August unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, up one-tenth of a percent in a month despite the addition of 156,000 non-farm jobs.

Acosta argued the overall picture was positive and noted that 1.2 million jobs have been added to the economy since January. "Multiple economic sectors showed job growth in August, including 36,000 manufacturing, 28,000 construction, and 6,000 mining and logging jobs. The breadth of job gains across manufacturing sub-industries is at a 20-year high; more than 70 percent of manufacturing sub-industries added jobs in August. These family-sustaining jobs are the foundation of the American Dream," Acosta said.

Nevertheless, the Labor Department figures showed that job growth didn't match projections of 180,000 new jobs, and annual wage growth has stayed flat at 2.5 percent. "Nominal wage growth is steady, yet real wage growth has room for improvement," Acosta conceded.

Democrats said the numbers showed that growth has lagged under the current administration.

"Today's jobs report shows that job growth under President Trump has slowed in comparison to the last six months of the Obama administration. While some states are experiencing stagnant job growth and even job loss, the Trump administration has still not offered a plan to increase wages and create jobs," said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., ranking minority member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.