- The U.S. gained an estimated 164,000 nonfarm jobs in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report. July's jobs gain lagged behind June's adjusted 193,000 total, but far exceeded May's adjusted 62,000 gain. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% from June's rate.
- Industry-based job growth was notable in professional and technical services (+31,000), healthcare (+30,000), social assistance (+20,000), and financial activities (+18,000). Little change occurred in manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government. However, mining declined by 5,000 jobs.
- The labor force participation rate rose slightly; the long-term unemployed number declined by 248,000.
Analysis from The New York Times noted that jobs in the goods-producing industries have seen a hit — and that in 2019, monthly average gains have been lower than in 2018 for manufacturing and construction, in particular.
Adam Ozimek, Upwork's chief economist, acknowledged the lag in job gains, but remained optimistic about the economy. "Over the last three months, job growth has averaged around 140,000, which is more than needed to absorb the growing population, but slower than 220,000 average last year. Trade uncertainty, fading fiscal stimulus, and lingering effects from the Fed's excessive rate hikes in 2018 remain headwinds," said Ozimek in a media statement emailed to HR Dive.
While concerns about a recession continue to echo in the media, Ozimek emphasized that a slowdown isn't looming just yet, calling the numbers reminiscent of a "slow, continued recovery." However, such numbers indicate that hiring may not get any easier for employers in the coming year. A recent CareerBuilder survey noted that 32% of employers intend to make a job change this year; half of workers surveyed felt like they had "just a job."
"Businesses of all sizes need to take a new approach to hiring and benefits in order to compete for top talent," Irina Novoselsky, CareerBuilder's CEO, said in a statement emailed to HR Dive. "Employees shared that they're considering much more than salary when applying for jobs. For example, most job seekers said that, other than salary, benefits are the most important factor." The same survey noted employee dissatisfaction with development opportunities, but Novoselsky added that this lack of training is changing, as more U.S. companies, especially in manufacturing, are upskilling their workers in response to the labor shortage.