Thursday, 16 August, 2018

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

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Cristina Norman | 05 August, 2018, 22:43

July wasn't a stellar month for hiring in the USA healthcare sector, with fewer jobs added in ambulatory care, hospitals and nursing facilities compared with a month earlier.

The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 3.9% in July, the US Department of Labor said, near to the 18-year low it reached in May. Last week, the commerce department reported that GDP had grown at an annual rate of 4.1% in the second quarter, the fastest pace in almost four years. Initial jobless claims were near a 50-year low in the week the BLS conducted its survey for the jobs report, and haven't added up to more than 300,000 since March 2015.

The decline in the jobless rate reflected a 284,000 decline in the number of unemployed people in the workforce, while the number of employed increased by 389,000. The White House has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum and on $34 billion of imports from China, and several companies have hit US imports with retaliatory duties.

Like weather forecasters predicting sunny skies in Southern California, economists have watched the labor market produce consistent monthly increases in hiring recently. Our research shows that wage and salary growth, and the EP ratio for the prime working-age cohort, are closely correlated, pointing toward further gains in wage growth.

Peter Cramer of Prime Advisors says one reason wages are not growing faster is the large but shrinking pool of part-time workers who are getting longer hours or full-time work.

Friday's report also included a revision to prior jobs reports, which now suggests the economy added 248,000 jobs in June, up from an initial report showing 213,000 new jobs were added to the economy.

Following this latest solid jobs report, it remains likely that the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates two more times in 2018.

During the same period, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index rose slightly more - 2.8 percent. As usual, ambulatory healthcare services dominated healthcare hiring with its 9,900 new jobs, although that was a 27% drop from the 13,500 jobs added in June. Retail payrolls rebounded by 7,100 jobs last month after losing 20,200 in June.

The slip in hiring last month may be temporary.

A company representative, left, speaks with a job seeker during a United Career Fairs sales and management hiring event in Oak Brook, Ill., on July 17. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

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