Economy Watch: Economy Adds 209K Jobs in July

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Job gains were broad-based during the month, occurring in professional and business services, manufacturing, retail trade and construction. A healthy uptick, but not as much as earlier this summer.

The change in total employment for May was revised from a gain of 224,000 to 229,000, while the change for June was revised from an increase of 288,000 to 298,000. With these revisions, the rise in employment in May and June came in 15,000 higher than previously reported. The official U.S. unemployment rate, which is calculated by the BLS using a separate survey from the number of jobs, moved a little in June, ticking up to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that for the week ending July 26, initial unemployment claims were at an annualized rate of 302,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 297,250, a drop of 3,500 from the previous week, and the lowest level for this metric since April 15, 2006, when it was 296,000.

Serious mortgage delinquencies drop in June

Fannie Mae reported on Thursday that the serious delinquency rate for mortgages that it owns or guarantees declined slightly in June to 2.05 percent, compared with 2.08 percent in May. Back in June 2013, the serious delinquency rate was 2.77 percent, and the most recent high for the rate was in February 2010, when it came in at 5.59 percent.

Similarly, Freddie Mac said last week that its single-family delinquency rate dropped a bit month-over-month: from 2.1 percent in May to 2.07 percent in June. In June 2013, Freddie Mac’s rate was 2.79 percent, and its most recent peak was also in February 2010, when it was 4.2 percent.

Both GSEs define serious delinquency as mortgage loans that are “three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure.” Before the Great Recession, the rates tended to hover around 1 percent. At the current pace of decline, both rates will be back to “normal” around the beginning of 2016.

Bad day for investors

Wall Street experienced a major down day on Thursday, purportedly on investor worries about Federal Reserve monetary policy. Now that the economy seems to have some legs, the thinking is that the central bank will consider raising interest rates sooner rather than later. The Fed, of course, has maintained its usually Calvin Coolidge-like silence on the matter, but does frequently say it’s studying the question of interest rate rises.

In any case, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 317.06 points, or 1.88 percent, on Thursday. The S&P 500 lost an even 2 percent and the Nasdaq declined 2.09 percent. It was the losing-est day for the U.S. equities markets since February.

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