U.S. job creation slows as employers scrounge for labor


The nation's unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent and the economy added 157,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday.

Healthy consumer spending and business investment, supported by tax cuts and a bump in federal spending this year, are resulting in job gains that continue to be more than sufficient to accommodate population growth in the 10th year of the economic expansion. Americans with fewer skills are also benefiting from hiring managers' desperation: The unemployment rate for those without a high-school degree fell to a record low in July.

The unemployment rate remains at a record low as employers fall slightly short of analyst's expectations for July. Economists' maintain that wages will rise as economy drains remaining slack from the labor market and businesses' pay more to retain workers. Last week, the commerce department reported that GDP had grown at an annual rate of 4.1% in the second quarter, the fastest pace in almost four years.

The new figures show the labor market was not largely affected by the current trade war.

"The important point is that there is no sign of overheating but that aggregate wages and salaries (jobs x hours x earnings) are growing at a brisk pace", Neil Dutta, the head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro, said in a note. Construction gained 19,000 jobs, but retail trade only 7,000.

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Homebuyers are encountering higher mortgage rates, one reason that the housing market has been faltering lately even as other economic indicators like hiring have remained strong, as evidenced by the upward revisions for May and June.

Despite many businesses' trouble finding qualified workers, they are still hiring and looking outside traditional pools for talent.

The Fed left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday while painting an upbeat portrait of both the labor market and economy. Most service sectors posted below-trend gains after a very strong prior two months, with only leisure and hospitality (+40,000) and professional business services (+51,000) posting solid gains. That kept the annual increase in wages at 2.7% in July. There were declines in transport, utilities and financial payrolls last month. Service-providing sectors grew by 177,000 jobs, with health care/social assistance gaining the most with 49,000 jobs.

America now has more jobs available that people considered unemployed. Employment rose in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000), and electronic instruments (+2,000).