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What employers need to know about the July jobs report

What employers need to know about the July jobs report

The economy added 164,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate held at 3.7%. Here’s what you need to know.

Lily Martis, Monster contributor

Employers and economists alike looked to the July jobs report to set the tone for the second half of this year—and neither were disappointed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy expanded by 164,000 jobs in July. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at a low 3.7%, and average hourly wages jumped up by 8 cents, totaling $27.98. Here are the headlines from July’s report.

Economic Expansion Remains Strong

Between trade tensions and overall slowing global growth, July’s jobs report was a testament to the resilience of the decadelong U.S. economic expansion. While the labor market has eased this year compared with 2018—averaging 223,000 new jobs a month in 2018 compared with an average of 172,000 a month in 2019—it remains on solid footing. On par with Bloomberg estimates that hovered around 165,000, the labor market added 164,000 jobs in July. This comes after payroll processor ADP reported 156,000 jobs were added to the private sector in July earlier this week. “We expect a slowdown in hiring this far into the expansion,” Gregory Daco, chief economist of Oxford Economics USA told the New York Times. “As long as employers create roughly 100,000 jobs each month, the labor market can keep pace with population growth and the jobless rate will hold steady.”

Rise of Technology Leads to Increased Job Growth

Leading the economic expansion in July, the technology sector experienced the most job growth. The BLS reported gains of 31,000 jobs added in professional and technical services, primarily in computer systems design. This jibes with Monster’s annual mid-year jobs report, which showed that the top jobs on the market predominantly fall in the tech space, which includes software developers, computer support specialists, and network systems administrators. Our data further shows that even non-tech companies are hiring more tech talent. As Forbes points out, “Today, no company can make, deliver, or market its product efficiently without technology.” This means employers will also need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent. Deloitte reports that 59% of Gen Z say they expect to stay with their current employer for less than two years. In an ever-tightening labor market, employers must appeal to tech-savvy generations in order to survive. As Thrive Global says, “Technology can help create an environment in which employees feel challenged, motivated, and engaged.”

Manufacturing Sector Hits the Brakes on Job Growth

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), manufacturers are growing at the slowest pace in three years. According to the BLS report, job growth in manufacturing was “little changed” with 16,000 gains in July. While this number is lower than desired, we can chalk it up to a couple reasons. As we’ve reported over the past few months, the global trade wars have been weighing on this sector’s growth in terms of employment. However, it’s not the sole reason job growth slowed in July, as automakers traditionally shut down plants this time of year.

Meanwhile, job growth in construction has tapered off after hitting a post-recession peak last year, and mining employment declined by 5,000 in July. Combined, construction, manufacturing, and mining have accounted for about 60% of the jobs slowdown in 2019, compared with the first half of 2018.

 More People are Looking for Jobs

The number of people looking for jobs began to increase in June and continued in July, according to the jobs report. Workforce participation increased from 62.9% to 63% in July, which means they were counted as unemployed, rather than outside the labor force. While hiring slowdowns are common among employers in the summer months when workers tend to take vacations, an uptick in workforce participation means that now may be the perfect time to find talent.

Wage Growth is on the Rise

Typically, when unemployment declines, wage growth spikes. While that hasn’t been the case for a while—despite the 17 straight months of an unemployment rate at or below 4%—wages are finally on the rise. Both June and July each saw 8-cent increases to average hourly wages, totaling $27.98. Up from 3.1% in June, average hourly wages rose by 3.2% in July over the past year.

The next jobs report will be released on September 6, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. EST. In the meantime, see how Monster can help drive job growth at your organization.