WASHINGTON, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 4th August, 2016) - The US economy continued robust job creation in July, largely surpassing analyst expectations, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. Non-farm payrolls rose by 255,000 jobs while the unemployment rate remained unchanged from the month before at 4.9 percent. Analysts had forecast a far more modest increase of 185,000 jobs. The new numbers were also accompanied by upward revisions for the months of May and June in a sign that job markets were healthier than previously thought.
Private businesses and government agencies added 292,000 jobs in June, not the 287,000 first reported, and 24,000 jobs in May, not the low revised figure of 11,000. The closely watched figures help fill out a complex economic picture for market observers eager for signs of whether the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year. Sending a somewhat contrary signal, the Commerce Department said last month that economic activity had grown by just 1.
2 percent in the second quarter. Monetary policy makers earlier this year dropped plans for successive rate hikes as signs grew that the domestic economy was not on sure footing. The new employment data were also unlikely to add turbulence to the US presidential campaigns, denying Republican candidate Donald Trump fodder for criticizing Democrats' stewardship of the economy with the general elections only three months away. To the dismay of Republicans, Trump in recent days focused more heavily on clashes with the family of a Muslim US Army officer killed in Iraq in 2004, whose family have been publicly critical of Trump.
His son Donald Trump Jr claimed last month that unemployment figures were manipulated for political purposes, a claim frequently made in political seasons but which was quickly refuted by PolitiFact. "Employment rose in all sectors of the economy, helping to keep the rate of unemployment at 4.9 percent amid an increase in the number of people entering the labor market looking for work," Chris Williamson of IHS Markit said Friday.
"Adding to the good news was an improvement in pay growth. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent against expectations of a mere 0.2 percent rise," said Williamson, noting that pay growth was still below pre-crisis rates. Gains were strongest in professional and business services, with 70,000 new jobs added, and in health care, where 43,000 new jobs were added. Together, both sectors have added nearly a million jobs in the last 12 months, according to the Labor Department. Employment in mining continued to fall, losing 6,000 positions from the prior month and putting the industry down 220,000 jobs since a peak hit in September 2014. The average workweek rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours while average hourly earnings inched upwards by 8 cents to $25.69, up 2.6 percent since the start of the year.