The U.S. economy added 209,000 new jobs in July, soundly beating Wall Street expectations, according to the jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.
The unemployment rate returned to a 16-year historic low, ticking down from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent. The labor force participation rate remained virtually unchanged at 62.9 percent during President Donald Trump’s sixth full month in office, continuing to trend at its lowest rate since the late 1970s.
The 209,000 jobs figure beat expectations of 180,000, and the unemployment figure suggests that individuals seeking work are able to find it, with the 4.3 percent figure reflecting natural turnover in the jobs market.
The report comes one day after the Wall Street Journal reported special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in the ongoing Russia investigation. Stocks fell immediately following the news with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting session lows.
Trump defended his economic record during a speech in Huntington, West Virginia Thursday. “Economic growth has surged to 2.6 percent nationwide,” the president said. “Nobody thought that number was going to happen.”
“Unemployment is at a 16 year low,” Trump boasted, before qualifying it. “But don’t forget, and I will never forget, the millions and millions of people out there that want jobs that don’t register on the unemployment rolls because they gave up looking for jobs.”
The average hourly earnings for all employees on private (non-farm) payrolls increased by 9 cents to $26.36 in July. Over the past 12 months, the average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent.
The president has focused on manufacturing jobs, a sector that has seen steady growth since his election. The business community has been vocal in its readiness to work with the president on infrastructure, tax, and regulatory reform.
Employment in the health care continued to grow as the debate over Obamacare continues. The sector added 39,000 jobs in July and has now added 327,000 jobs in the past year. Employment in food services and drinking rose by 53,000 jobs, bringing its year over year increase to 313,000.
Job growth in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, financial activities, transportation and warehousing showed little change from the previous month.
“Since our election, not my, since our election, we’ve added more than one million new jobs,” Trump said Thursday. “And the good news keeps pouring in.”
On Friday, Japanese-based auto manufacturers Toyota and Mazda announced plans to collaborate on a joint venture project to build a $1.6 billion assembly plant in the U.S., creating 4,000 jobs.
Employment growth has averaged 184,000 new jobs per month thus far in 2017.
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