July Jobs Gain Healthy, Broad-Based

Jobs gains in July, while not quite as robust as in June, were nevertheless broad-based. Professional and business services added 47,000 jobs during the month, including gains in architectural and engineering services.

Jobs gains in July, while not quite as robust as in June, were nevertheless broad-based. Professional and business services added 47,000 jobs during the month, including gains in architectural and engineering services. Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in July, with a good chunk of them in motor vehicles and parts (15,000 jobs).

In July retail trade employment rose by 27,000. Automobile dealers, food and beverage stores, and general merchandise stores all hired more people. Employment in construction increased by 22,000 during the month, and despite the relative sluggishness of the residential sector, jobs in residential building and in residential specialty trade contractors increased.

The number of long-term unemployed people (jobless for 27 weeks or more) was more-or-less unchanged at 3.2 million in July. They accounted for 32.9 percent of the total unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.1 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The July headline unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, up a tenth of a percent from June, which probably indicates that more people are now actively looking for work than before (a year ago, the headline rate was 7.3 percent). The BLS’s U-6 metric, which counts not only the officially unemployed, but those who have looked for work unsuccessfully in the last 12 months, along with part-time workers who want to be full time, came in at 12.2 percent in July, also a tenth of a percent up for the month. A year ago, U-6 was 13.9 percent.

Construction spending ticks down in July

The Census Bureau reported on Friday that construction spending during June 2014 was estimated to be at an annualized rate of $950.2 billion, 1.8 percent below spending in May. But the June 2014 figure is 5.5 percent above the June 2013 rate.

All together, spending on private construction came in 1 percent down month-over-month, while public construction spending dropped 4 percent. Residential construction was down 0.2 percent from May, but up 7.1 percent since the same month in 2013. Nonresidential construction dropped 2.8 percent for the month, but was up 4.6 percent since last year.

New multifamily construction was one of the few categories to rise in June, up 2.5 percent (and 33.2 percent since last year, but the property type is volatile). Amusement and recreation construction gained 2.1 percent for the month, and 3.1 percent since last year. Other categories that eked out small gains (less than 1 percent) in July month-over-month were office, health care and religious structures.

The employment numbers didn’t impress investors on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 69.93 points, or 0.42 percent. The S&P 500 was off 0.29 percent and the Nasdaq declined 0.39 percent.