The U.S. in July gained more than 200,000 jobs for the sixth straight month, signaling the economy is likely to sustain its momentum through the summer months.
The economy added 209,000 jobs last month outside the farm sector, the Labor Department said Friday. Although hiring tapered off after a 298,000 gain in June, the U.S. has generated at least 200,000 jobs in six straight months for the first time since 1997.
“The labor market came off its hard boil in July, but it continued to simmer,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.
July Jobs Report, Stocks to Watch and More
July’s unemployment numbers tick up slightly from June, Friday’s markets report, and weekend sip. Simon Constable gets all the details on the News Hub. Photo: Getty
Every major sector of the economy added jobs and hiring was particularly strong in the professional ranks, construction and manufacturing — all sectors that pay above the average national wage.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose slightly to 6.2% from 6.1% despite another strong month of hiring, according to government data. More people entered the labor force in search of work to push the rate higher, but that’s usually a good thing. It’s typically a sign that people think more jobs are available.
U.S. stocks SPY, -0.05% wavered and were slightly weaker, coming off a day in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank by 317 points. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 235,000 increase in new jobs last month.
In the first seven months of 2014 the economy has gained an average of 230,000 jobs. That’s the best stretch of job creation since the recession ended in mid-2009 and 19% faster than the pace of hiring in 2013.
Nor does it look like businesses are about to hit the brakes on hiring. The nation’s largest small-business lobbying group, for instance, said employment has risen 10 straight months for the first time since 2006. And a weekly report that tracks how many people apply for jobless benefits recently hit a 14-year low.
The acceleration in hiring has fueled renewed optimism that the U.S. is ready to experience a more rapid phase of expansion after years of agonizingly slow growth and a prolonged period of high unemployment.
Yet the July employment report wasn’t entirely positive. Wages barely grew, for instance, and there was little change in the number of people who’ve been out of work for at least six months or who can only obtain part-time work. Sluggish wage growth is a big reason why the economy continues to grow well below its historical average of 3.3% a year.
Inside the report
In July, companies that employ professionals in areas such as technology and administration were the leaders in job creation once again. Business services added 47,000 new positions, though about one-fifth were temp positions.