Jobs Up by 187,000; Unemployment Rate Flat in July

(Image courtesy Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Total nonfarm payroll employment was up by 187,000 in July, and the unemployment rate remained fairly flat at 3.5%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The unemployment rate has ranged from 3.4% to 3.7% since March 2022. Job gains in July occurred in health care, social assistance, financial activities and wholesale trade.

The labor force participation rate was 62.6% for the fifth consecutive month.

However, the number of jobs added is slightly softer than it has been.

“[The] jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the labor market continues to soften modestly, in line with our expectations. In particular, the July job growth figure of 187,000 represents a slight deceleration from the pace seen over the past few months,” said Mark Palim, Deputy Chief Economist at Fannie Mae. “Additionally, job growth over the prior two months was revised downward by a combined 49,000, another sign of gradual slowing.”

The average monthly gain over the past year has been 312,000.

“The incoming economic data continue to convey conflicting signals about the strength of the economy. Indicators of manufacturing and service sector health remain lackluster, measures of inflation have moved lower, while GDP growth in the second quarter was stronger than expected and consumer spending remains resilient,” said Mortgage Bankers Association Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist Joel Kan.

In terms of building and housing-specific employment, construction employment was up in July by 19,000, close to the average monthly gain of 17,000 in the prior year. Residential specialty trade contractors saw a growth of 13,000 and nonresidential building construction was up by 11,000.

“Speaking of construction, employment in this interest-rate sensitive sector continued to trend up in July. Residential construction is defying expectations, largely because of how little housing supply is available for sale,” First American Economist Ksenia Potapov noted. “Like June, the fastest monthly growth came from residential specialty trade contractors.”