Friday, 17 August, 2018

US Unemployment Drops Slightly; Job Growth Slows

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Jodi Jackson | 05 August, 2018, 22:44

Economists forecast that employers added 191,000 jobs in July, down from 213,000 in June but easily enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The economy added 157,000 jobs last month as the nation's unemployment rate dropped to a near-record low of 3.9 percent.

A jobless rate of under 4 percent usually prompts employers to raise wages to attract and keep good workers; but, the newest figures show wages grew just 2.7 percent over the past year, which is slightly lower than the inflation rate, meaning that real wages are actually falling slightly.

Unemployment has fallen this year to its lowest level since 2000, and many economists predict unemployment will fall even further this year. There are about 6.6 million unfilled jobs in the country. The White House has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium and on $34 billion of imports from China, and several companies have hit US imports with retaliatory duties.

The slowdown in hiring last month likely is not the result of trade tensions, which have escalated in recent days, but rather because of a shortage of workers.

Employment by nondepository mortgage companies in June increased for the third consecutive month as seasonal hiring continued even though home resales inched down another notch.

One cloud on the horizon has been the Trump administration's trade fights with China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

One thing that hasn't impressed much is wage growth. The only time in the recorded history the rate was lower was in the 1960s.

Average hourly earnings increased seven cents, or 0.3%, in July after gaining 0.1% in June. Consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in June from a year earlier, more than the average wage gain.

The report missed most analysts' expectations.

People looking for jobs at factories had a better chance of being hired last month.

Professional/business services gained 51,000 jobs, with temporary help services adding 28,000 jobs and computer systems design 8,000 jobs, according to the BLS. "America is working, the July employment numbers confirm that those who have been left behind over the past two decades are beginning to find their places in their search for the American dream". Faucher writes that as that happens, job growth will slow down because businesses will find it more hard to recruit new hires. The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not reflect those of Berenberg Capital Markets, LLC.

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