WASHINGTON - The pace of U.S. job losses is moderating and the trend in the labor market is beginning to improve, a top White House adviser said on Friday.

It is still a terrible number, but it is certainly showing those job losses moderating, Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC television after the August payroll report.

Just remember where we were a year ago. We're just coming up on that one-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers and jobless numbers are about to where we were before that crisis, she said, referring to the failure of the U.S. investment bank last September that sparked a global financial panic.

U.S. unemployment hit 9.7 percent last month from 9.4 percent in July, but a fewer than expected 216,000 jobs were lost. Romer said this improvement in the labor market trend would eventually lead to a return to more normal rates of unemployment around 5 percent.

I do think we'll get back to more normal levels of unemployment. We are not going to turn into the European country that went through a period of high unemployment.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by James Dalgleish)