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Going Steady

Job gains in July were modest, but solid, according to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report, released Friday, showed total nonfarm jobs up by 209,000 last month. Overall, little changed in July, compared to the prior few months.

Most employment increases occurred in the food and beverage sector, professional and business services, and health care. Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 53,000 in July. Professional and business services added 49,000 jobs, and health care employment increased by 39,000, with most job gains occurring in ambulatory health care services.

Average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents to $26.36 in July. That brings average hourly earnings year-to-date up 65 cents, or 2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $22.10.

Revised total nonfarm payroll employment for May was down from 152,000 to 145,000, and the change for June was revised up from 222,000 to 231,000. With these revisions, employment gains in May and June combined were 2,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 195,000 per month.

The national unemployment rate remained a steady 4.3 percent. That’s about 7 million unemployed Americans, and those numbers have remained largely the same since spring. Black and Hispanic adults remained the largest unemployed populations in July, with unemployment rates of 7.4 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively.

Among the unemployed, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) remained steady at 1.8 million in July. Long-term unemployed and accounted for 26 percent of the unemployment numbers last month.

Despite the business-as-usual nature of the July jobs report, Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, said the report offered more evidence of a strong labor market.

“Job gains were solid and broad-based, and a slight upward revision put year-to-date average monthly hiring at a healthy 184,000,” Duncan said. “The downtick in the unemployment rate amid a rise in the labor force participation rate sweetened the report. One could nitpick the lack of a pickup in year-over-year wage gains, which have stayed within a narrow range of 2.5 percent to 2.8 percent this year.”

Duncan pointed out, however, that in the context of decelerating headline and core inflation witnessed this year, the steady annual wage increase “isn’t too shabby.

“All in all, today’s report is consistent with gradual monetary normalization,” he said. “We continue to expect September balance-sheet tapering and a December rate hike.”

About Author: Scott Morgan

Scott Morgan is a multi-award-winning journalist and editor based out of Texas. During his 11 years as a newspaper journalist, he wrote more than 4,000 published pieces. He's been recognized for his work since 2001, and his creative writing continues to win acclaim from readers and fellow writers alike. He is also a creative writing teacher and the author of several books, from short fiction to written works about writing.

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