The economy added 209,000 jobs in July, a sharp slowing from its 277,000 average over the prior three months. The slowdown was widely spread across sectors, although temporary help, which added just 8,500 jobs and health care, which added just 7,000 were notable weak. Construction, which added 22,000 jobs and manufacturing, which added 30,000 jobs, were surprisingly strong.
The unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 6.2 percent, as there was little change in either the size of the labor force or the number of unemployed. Involuntary part-time employment edged down slightly reversing part of a jump in June. It still stands 669,000 below its year-ago level. Voluntary part-time employment decreased modestly but is still 502,000 above its-year ago level. This would be consistent with some workers opting to work part-time now that they no longer need to get health insurance through their job.
This report provides little evidence of any pick-up in wage growth. The average hourly wage rose at a 1.82 percent annual rate over the last three months compared with the prior three months. While a tightening labor market should eventually allow workers to see some gains in real wages, the economy does not appear to be at this point yet.
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