Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

USA job growth slows, trade deficit widens

USA job growth slows, trade deficit widens

The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree fell to 5.1 percent in July, the lowest rate since the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted its education measures in 1992.

Lower-skilled workers are also benefiting from companies' demand for labor.

The U.S. labor market continues to strengthen.

Businesses are also getting less picky in their hiring.

But a big drag came from sporting goods, hobby, book, and music retailers, which lost 31,800 jobs on net. Construction companies hired 19,000 more workers after increasing payrolls by 13,000 jobs in June. That was an improvement over a 4-cent gain in June. Real average hourly earnings were down 0.2 percent year-over-year last month, the worst print since October of 2012.

The number of people working part time for economic reasons was basically the same in July as it was in June - around 4.6 million.

Mocuta added that the dip in the unemployment rate without any corresponding upward pressure on wages suggested more slack in the labor market than the unemployment rate might otherwise suggest.

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Average job growth so far this year is still higher than in 2016 and 2017, which is astonishing at this point in a recovery. A shorter workweek has the effect of boosting average hourly pay. Gains were seen in professional and business services, manufacturing, healthcare, and social assistance.

But they fail to note that prices have been rising along with wages. The Federal Reserve is on track to raise interest rates two more times this year and several times next year. Consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in June from a year earlier, more than the average wage gain. There were declines in transport, utilities and financial payrolls last month.

One cloud on the horizon has been the Trump administration's trade fights with China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

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.

Brian England, the owner of BA Auto, a vehicle fix shop in Columbia, Maryland, would like to add another technician and an apprentice to his 18-member staff.

Still, with unemployment at historically low levels and after a decade of steady job creation, employers across the United States complain of a widespread shortage of qualified labor and say they are struggling to fill open positions and being forced to offer higher compensation to attract and retain talent.

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