What Slowdown? Jobs Surge to 255,000 in July, Wages Jump, Unemployment at 4.9%
FlaglerLive | August 5, 2016
A week ago the nation got its worst economic news of the year: the economy had grown at 1.2 percent in preliminary calculations for the second quarter, first quarter growth was revised downward, and the combined first half of the year had produced a net growth rate of just 1 percent, not nearly enough to sustain job growth. Somehow, the job market did not get the full memo.
May’s job creation was initially very poor, at 11,000, the lowest total since the recovery began after the Great Recession six years ago. But that was revised to 24,000. The first four months of the year had averaged 183,000 new jobs a month, well below the 229,000-a-month pace of 2015, which, with 2014, were two of the best years on record for job creation, mirroring the late Clinton years in the 1990s. But June and July’s numbers have surged again, with 292,000 new jobs in June and 255,000 in July, bringing the year’s total to 1.3 million new jobs, and keeping the unemployment rate at 4.9 percent.
The economy has added 13.5 million jobs since employment bottomed out in December 2009. More important to many of the record 151.5 million Americans now holding jobs is the rise in wages, an 8-cent-an-hour increase, or 0.3 percent, resulting in a 2.6 percent year-over-year improvement. Wages until recently had been the laggard in the economic recovery. The increase was the highest since January.
Many job sectors saw gains, including 70,000 jobs in professional and business services, 43,000 jobs in health care, 28,000 in financial activities, 45,000 in leisure and hospitality, and 9,000 jobs in manufacturing. Government employment was up 38,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between now and 2024, the top three jobs most in demand will be personal care aides, which payes less than $21,000 a year, registered nurses, which pays $67,500 a year, and home health aides ($21,900). Food preparation, retail and nursing assistant are the next three highest-demand jobs, all three at the lower end of the wage scale.
The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers, because they could not find full-time work or had their hours cut back) was at 5.9 million in July. Of those, 2 million could only find part-time work, and 3.6 million had their hours cut back. An additional 20.7 million workers were employed part-time by choice.
When the alternative measure of unemployment and under-employment is calculated, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ so-called U-6 measure, the unemployment and underemployment rate jumps to 9.7 percent, a percentage point lower than where it was a year ago. The rate includes involuntary part-time workers, discouraged workers, and workers who have dropped out of the labor force but are still able to work.