WASHINGTON — U.S. employers likely hired at a healthy pace in August, emboldened by brisk consumer spending and an economy that keeps growing steadily.

Economists have forecast that employers added 189,000 jobs in August and that the unemployment rate dipped from an already-low 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, according to data provider FactSet. That would be nearly the lowest rate in 50 years.

That level of hiring would slightly exceed the pace in July, when employers added 157,000 jobs. The expected gain for August would be a solid one, though below the average increase over the previous six months of 220,000 jobs.

The Labor Department's jobs report will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time Friday.

The economy is expanding steadily, fueled by tax cuts, confident consumers, business investment and government spending.