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Jobs report misses as unemployment rate slides near 18-year low

05 August 2018

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. Overall, the US unemployment rate inched down to 3.9% in July, following an increase in June, with total employment increasing by 157,000 jobs.

The July jobs report indicated that U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs on net last month, fewer than economists expected. Gains were seen in professional and business services, manufacturing, healthcare, and social assistance.

Individual state unemployment data is not expected to be released until August 17.

Excluding those factors, hiring in July would have been closer to the monthly average this year. More hours has helped lift average weekly earnings for retail workers in the past year more quickly than for workers overall.

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A quirk in the calendar may explain why average hourly wages inched up only 7 cents from June to July, explained Josh Wright, chief economist at software firm iCIMS: The Labor Department surveys employers at a different time than when companies pay their workers.

Another highlight from Friday's report was a decline in the underemployment rate - a measure that captures both those out of work and people who want full-time work but are working part-time - which dropped to a post-crisis low of 7.5% in July, down from 7.8% in June.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly in July, while job gains were lower than many analysts predicted. Wages were up 2.7 percent for the 12 months ended July 31, the same annual pace as the previous month and an improvement over the sluggish 2 percent wage gains earlier in the recovery. The year-over-year gain is unchanged at 2.7 percent.

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The gain in payrolls was concentrated at private employers, which added 170,000 jobs, while the public sector cut 13,000 positions. The solid rate of hiring reflects strong production, business confidence, and plans for expansion. "This is an issue not just for the USA, but in every other developed market".

Hiring in the goods-producing sector rose by 52,000, in line with its strong recent trend, while job growth in the service-providing sector moderated to 118,000 from outsized 182,000 and 204,000 gains in June and May, respectively.

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Jobs report misses as unemployment rate slides near 18-year low