In July, the economy and the job market continue to improve at the same consistent, gradual rate they have been for half a decade now. While both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons remain unchanged, they are down by 0.9% and 1.4 million people, respectively, since this time last year.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 215,000 jobs last month where job gains occurred in retail trade (36,000), food and services (29,000), health care (28,000), professional and technical services (27,000), financial activities (17,000), and transportation and warehousing (14,000). Additionally, motor vehicle and parts dealers added 13,000 jobs, and employment continued to trend up in general merchandise stores (6,000).
Manufacturers added 15,000 jobs, which is the biggest monthly increase experienced in this sector since late 2014, while mining employment continued to trend downward in July with a loss of 4,000 jobs. Additionally, the mining industry has declined by 78,000, with losses concentrated in support activities since December 2014. Employment in construction, wholesale trade, information and government, continue to show little change at this time.
Average hourly earnings for all private nonfarm employees rose by 0.2% or 5 cents. Over the last 12 months, wages have risen at an annual rate of 2.1%—not much more than the already-low underlying rate of inflation. While not significant, there appears to be some long-overdue upwards movement.
With the job market generally moving in the right direction, the U.S. economy just needs to maintain this growth rate so that the jobless rate may sink below the crucial 5% level by the end of the year.