The Corner

209,000 Jobs Added in July, and the Labor Force Grew

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report this morning. That’s just below what analysts had been forecasting, around 230,000 jobs, but it’s a seventh month in a row with more than 200,000 jobs added. Revisions to the previous two months’ data weren’t that big, but those two solid months got even better: June saw 298,000 jobs added and May saw 224,000 added.

In other good news, the civilian labor force grew by about 300,000 persons, pushing the labor-force participation rate up — albeit a tiny one-tenth of a percentage point. That’s a small gain, but small gains are better than what most months of this recovery have offered. And, of course, that labor-force participation rate remains at a multi-decade low — but it isn’t falling anymore. Jobs growth of just over 200,000 jobs a month is hardly anything to get excited about, but the firming up of the labor force is a new and encouraging sign.

Because the labor force grew a bit, the unemployment rate ticked up in July, to 6.2 percent — which, when jobs growth is strong, isn’t a bad thing.

That is in fact one of the few things many conservatives dissatisfied with the pace of this economic recovery may agree with Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen about: One should look at a broad range of labor-market statistics to tell whether Americans are getting the jobs they want, rather than just the headline unemployment rate (which looks at whether Americans who’ve actively looked for a job in the past month have one (leaving out, for instance, people who want a job but aren’t looking). As Sam Ro of Business Insider pointed out this morning before the report came out, relying on “a range of labor-market indicators” (as Yellen says she does, and as one does if they point to, say, the U-6 “true unemployment” number or the labor-force-participation rate) can be complicated and risky. Because the Fed has to pick the various indicators and weight them, it leaves more discretion up to them about whether inflation risks are rising or how much slack there is left in the labor market. This month, though, offers Yellen a reprieve: The fact that the unemployment rate, the single standard metric the Fed used to use, ticked up even as a nice number of jobs were added supports the conclusion the Fed has been drawing from its now-preferred “range of labor-market indicators” (that is, that there’s still lots of slack left in the labor market).

The weakest part of the report, probably: Hourly wages didn’t rise in July, and nor did hours worked, essentially. That’s definitely not good news, but if workers are returning to the labor force, it’s also not surprising.

Those watching the overall labor market for signs that the impending implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate for businesses with more than 100 workers won’t see much evidence of it here: The number of Americans saying they were working part-time for economic reasons dropped in July, though it had risen rapidly in June. As this debate heats up, though, it’s important to remember that we probably won’t see economy-wide effects from the regulation — rather, it’s going to affect certain industries, at the margin, as Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily has pointed out.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More
Elections

Fire Brenda Snipes

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Florida’s Broward County, does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. Snipes has held her position since 2003, in which year her predecessor, ... Read More
World

How Immigration Changes Britain

Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, ... Read More
Elections

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More