Public and private employers added 164,000 jobs last month, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Prior to the report’s release, economists were predicting the addition of 165,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 3.6%, which would have been a 50-year low. However, the labor force participation rate ticked up to 63%. As a result, the unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.7%.
The labor force hit a record high at 163.4 million workers, notes Jeff Cox at CNBC.
“Along with that, a broader measure of unemployment that accounts for discouraged workers and the underemployed, sometimes called the ‘real’ unemployment rate, dropped to 7%, its lowest since December 2000,” Cox writes.
Several Industries Added Jobs Last Month
Job gains centered in service-providing industries in July:
- Professional/technical services (+31,000 jobs)
- Health care (+30,000 jobs)
- Social assistance (+20,000 jobs)
- Financial activities (+18,000 jobs)
Manufacturing “changed little” last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding 16,000 jobs. Mining shed 5,000 positions. Other industries were essentially flat, including construction, leisure and hospitality, retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government.
Wages Are Growing … But Are They Growing Fast Enough?
Average hourly pay grew 8 cents to $27.98 in July, after an 8-cent gain the previous month. Over the past year, earnings have grown 3.2 percent, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, real wages remain 9.8 percent lower than in 2006, according to the PayScale Index. And some economists argue that even nominal wage growth lags behind expectations.
“Wage growth continues to fall short of what we’d expect in an economy that has had historically low unemployment—the unemployment rate has been at (or below) 4.0 percent for the past 17 months,” writes Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “…Unfortunately, disappointing wage growth is not a new feature of the U.S. economy. According to new data released this week, hourly pay has continued to diverge from economy-wide productivity. Since 1979, productivity has risen six times faster than hourly compensation for the typical U.S. worker.”
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