The Labor Department on Friday releases the July jobs report. The latest round of data follow big swings in the May and June numbers, as well as a lackluster report on overall economic growth.
1 Now Hiring
The U.S. labor market sputtered in May, adding only 11,000 jobs, and rebounded in June with a net gain of 287,000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect a July somewhere in the middle, with the forecast calling for a seasonally adjusted gain of 179,000 in nonfarm payrolls. While slower than the 229,000 average of 2015, that should be enough to keep unemployment low and wages on the rise.
2 Out of Work
The headline unemployment rate was 4.9% in June while a broader measure, which also captures discouraged and marginally attached workers, hit 9.6%, the lowest level since April 2008. If the economy continues to add jobs, the alternate number should continue to slowly decline.
3 Warmer Welcome
The labor-force participation rate has been hovering close to four-decade lows, a reflection of an aging workforce but also prime-age workers giving up. If the economy keeps adding jobs and wages climb, economists expect more men and women to come off the sidelines.
4 Pay Up
There’s significant debate about the health of the labor market: Is the pace of hiring slowing because the economy is getting softer or because workers are becoming scarce? If the market is getting tighter, wages may start to pick up. Average hourly earnings advanced 2.6% in June, matching the strongest gains since 2009.
5 Miner Problem
The mining industry has been pummeled by tumbling crude oil prices while manufacturers have been bothered by a strong dollar and tepid overseas demand. But service-providing industries, which account for 86% of all jobs in the U.S., have been adding steadily, holding up the labor market. July’s report should reflect the relative health of the multitude of industries that constitute the U.S. economy.