Modest July Job Growth Keeps US Economy On Edge

Which end is up? And which way are things heading?

The American economy continues to muddle along, with July job numbers offering little clarity as to its directional momentum moving forward.

According to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 164,000 jobs were added last month – almost exactly the number that Wall Street was expecting. 

Unfortunately, job gains in May were revised downward (from 72,000 to 62,000) as were job gains posted in June (from 224,000 to 193,000).

Take look …

(Click to view)

(Via: Zero Hedge)

“It’s obvious that the U.S. economy peaked some time in 2017 and is all downhill from there,” the website Zero Hedge noted.

If this is true (and the trend continues), it could spell serious trouble for U.S. president Donald Trump – who has staked his 2020 reelection bid on the relative health of the economy compared to how it performed under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

First, though, more numbers …

Wage growth was solid in June, with monthly earnings ticking up by 0.3 percent (better than the expected 0.2 percent).  For the year, wages are up 3.3 percent (which was better than the expected 3.2 percent).  Unfortunately, even this bright spot in the data disappointed as the American work week shrank from 34.4 to 34.3 hours.

Labor participation – the key employment metric – improved by 0.1 percent to 63 percent.  Meanwhile the widely watched (but economically meaningless) unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent.

(Click to view)

(Via: Getty Images)

Looking more granularly, metrics were mixed. Manufacturing jobs grew by 16,000 – the sector’s biggest gain in seven months. Business jobs (real estate, insurance, finance, etc.) also posted their best print since February of 2018. Also, the number of Americans working part-time for economic reasons dipped by 363,000 to 3.98 million – its lowest mark in more than a dozen years.

Again, though, there is a “however …”

The number of multiple job-holders is spiking – from 7.85 million in May to 8.16 million in June to a new all-time high of 8.39 million last month. According to Zero Hedge, this was a clear indication that the jobs number was far weaker than the headline represents.”

Expect the Democratic presidential candidates to seize on that number …

Our view? It is hard to say which end is up … or which way things are headed. We have argued for months that the economy was on a “razor’s edge,” and we have seen nothing in the interim to suggest anything has changed. Growth is clearly cooling, and downward revisions to previous years indicate the Trump economy is not all it has been cracked up to be.

Meanwhile, the secretive Federal Reserve is obviously worried about what it sees as evidenced by its recent rate cut.

Bottom line? No one knows for sure where things are headed …

For those of you keeping score at home, here is the BLS release in its entirety …

(Via: BLS)



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