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US payrolls rise 157000 while annual wage gains hold at 2.7%

05 August 2018

Friday's report showed that the closure of Toys "R" Us had an outsized impact on the employment picture in July as the economy lost 31,800 jobs from the sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores sub-industry, which in total only employs around 600,000 people. The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9 percent, as expected and is around its lowest level in almost 50 years.

"Non-farm payrolls increased by a more modest 157,000 in July but, with the gain in the preceding two months revised up by a cumulative 60,000, the labor market still appears to be in good health", said Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics. Leisure and hospitality was a main contributor with 40,000 jobs, while health care and social assistance added 33,500 and professional and business services added 51,000 - including about 28,000 in temporary help, the most in more than a year.

Individual state unemployment data is not expected to be released until August 17.

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The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9 percent from 4 percent. Faucher writes that as that happens, job growth will slow down because businesses will find it more hard to recruit new hires. Economists' maintain that wages will rise as economy drains remaining slack from the labor market and businesses' pay more to retain workers. The number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6.3 million in July.

Wall Street finished higher despite the disappointing jobs report, which coincided with a surprising leap in the trade deficit.

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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.

A separate measure, average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers, also increased 2.7 percent from a year earlier, unchanged from the prior month. The monthly increase in wages was an improvement from June's 0.1% increase. "Those revisions give us 59,000 jobs added that we didn't know we had before". The new spending follows a 60 percent jump in oil prices in the past year. The solid rate of hiring reflects strong production, business confidence, and plans for expansion. Retail was also sluggish, with 7,000 job gains. The White House has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium and on $34 billion of imports from China, and several companies have hit USA imports with retaliatory duties.

Construction boosted jobs by 19,000 following a 13,000 gain.

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US payrolls rise 157000 while annual wage gains hold at 2.7%