U.S. employers add 157,000 jobs, jobless rate hits 3.9 per cent

US jobs growth slows more than expected in July

American job growth falls short of expectations in July

USA job growth slowed more than expected in July, as companies appeared to struggle to find qualified workers and the unemployment rate declined, pointing to tightening labour market conditions.

"The basic story of the labor market has been a slow and steady recovery of month after month of impressive jobs gains", said Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. Americans with fewer skills are also benefiting from hiring managers' desperation: The unemployment rate for those without a high-school degree fell to a record low in July.

The somewhat disappointing result for the month obscures the very strong pace over the last three months, even as employers nationwide continue to complain about difficulty finding workers to fill open positions.

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After remaining elevated for years after the Great Recession, the number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work has fallen almost 13 percent in the past year and now stands at 4.6 million.

The economy expanded at a 4.1 per cent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the strongest showing in almost four years. Average hourly earnings rose by seven cents to $27.05, the bureau report said.

The U.S. economy has added jobs for 94 consecutive months, a record streak that shows no signs of waning, despite President Donald Trump's escalating trade war. Retail was also sluggish, with 7,000 job gains. The U.S. central bank said "the labor market has continued to strengthen and economic activity has been rising at a strong rate". The economy created 59,000 more jobs in May and June than previously reported and needs to generate about 120,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

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"This is not a labor market in which you're going to get your wish list candidate", Wright said.

Hiring sizzled in July in business services, manufacturing and hospitality. The year-over-year gain is unchanged at 2.7 percent. Initial jobless claims were near a 50-year low in the week the BLS conducted its survey for the jobs report and haven't added up to more than 300,000 since March 2015. Mining employment registered its first decline in 10 months in July (-4,000) but is likely to bounce back with higher energy prices propelling activity in the sector. Service-providing sectors grew by 177,000 jobs, with health care/social assistance gaining the most with 49,000 jobs.

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