Another ‘Unexpected’ Jobs Report

by Greg Pollowitz

The economy added 162,000 jobs in July, according to government data released this morning, helping to bring the unemployment rate down but still short of what analysts had expected.

The Labor Department reported robust hiring in industries such as retail, trade and professional services. But key sectors, including manufacturing and construction, were essentially unchanged. The jobless rate fell to 7.4 percent, although part of the decline was due to workers dropping out of the labor force.

The data also showed hiring in previous months was not as strong as first reported. Estimates for May and June were revised down by a total of 26,000 jobs.

“Overall this is not a strong labor report,” said Alan MacEachin, an economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. The data is “consistent with a sluggish, lackluster economy.”

The Labor Department also said the average workweek dipped slightly to 34.4 hours. Average hourly earnings fell by 2 cents in July to $23.98 after a 10-cent jump in June. . .