July labor report: 157000 new jobs; unemployment dips below 4%

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Although labor shortage is a constant concern in the construction sector, it added 19,000 jobs in July, lifting its 2018 total so far to 170,000 (2017 total: 250,000).

Economists forecast that the unemployment rate dipped from 4% to 3.9%, remaining near an 18-year low.

Ahead of this morning's new jobs report, most projections said the USA economy added roughly 190,000 jobs in July.

Hary Bottka, senior vice president at Randstad Sourceright, which manages hiring for clients in the manufacturing, financial services and health care industries, says companies are increasingly thinking about converting contract workers, over time, to permanent employees.

The monthly jobs report showed unemployment declined to 3.9, down 0.1 percent from June. "There's no evidence that businesses are changing the way that they're hiring and spending". Despite many company executives complaining that they can not find workers to fill open positions, wage growth remains sluggish.

After remaining elevated for years after the Great Recession, the number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work has fallen almost 13 percent in the past year and now stands at 4.6 million.

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One theory for why wage growth is not picking up more is that many Americans gave up looking for jobs in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but people are now looking again as they see the strong job market.

Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $27.05.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4%) and Whites (3.4%) declined in July.

Employment gains remained strong in manufacturing and other tradeable goods industries, while all of the job growth slowdown in July occurred in the service-producing industries that have less exposure to trade. Typically, when unemployment has fallen below 4 per cent in the past, wages have increased at a faster pace. The BLS also provides a rate that counts in people who looked for work in the past 12 months as well as people who work part-time but want a full-time job. The annual increase in wages was unchanged at 2.7 percent in July.

The retail sector also added 7,000 jobs, despite 32,000 jobs lost in sporting goods, hobby, book, music and toy stores. Economists had expected a gain of about 190,000. Employment rose in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000), and electronic instruments (+2,000).

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