Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 3.9% in July

Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 3.9% in July

Non-farm payrolls advanced 157,000 after an upwardly revised 248,000 increase, Labor Department figures showed Friday. Initial jobless claims were near a 50-year low in the week the BLS conducted its survey for the jobs report and haven't added up to more than 300,000 since March 2015.

Although June typically is a busy month for home sales, purchases of pre-owned homes declined due to factors that include limited inventory, higher year-over-year mortgage rates and increases in home prices that outpaced wage growth.

One important factor driving economists' forecast for a strong jobs month overall was the low number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, said the economy was "strong", an upgrade from its June assessment, which dubbed the economy "solid".

This trend is unlikely to persist, said Ellen Zentner, Morgan Stanley's chief USA economist.

Gapen said he's optimistic that wage gains will pick up, ending the year at about a 3 percent increase.

Like weather forecasters predicting sunny skies in Southern California, economists have watched the labor market produce consistent monthly increases in hiring recently.

And sporting goods, hobby and toy stores shed 32,000 jobs, by far the most on records dating back to 1990. Over the year, the industry has added 203,000 jobs.

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In its trade report, the Commerce Department said the U.S. deficit in goods and services rose 7.3% to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May.

Wages meanwhile rose 0.3 percent for the month to an average of $27.05 an hour, putting them up 2.7 percent higher than July of previous year - still below 2.8 percent annual inflation rate. With revisions, job gains have averaged 224,000 a month over the past three months.

President Donald Trump saw another record low in Hispanic unemployment the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed on Friday. Retail was also sluggish, with 7,000 job gains.

The slowdown in hiring, however, is not believed to be the result of trade tensions, but rather because of a shortage of workers.

Health care and social assistance grew by 34,000 jobs, and food services and drinking places by 26,000 jobs, the report said.

The drop in government payrolls was concentrated in local governments, which shed 20,000 jobs. The number of unemployed people rose to 6.3 million.

The participation rate, or share of working-age people in jobs or actively looking, was unchanged at 62.9 percent.

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