October 18, 2018

U.S. Added 157,000 Jobs in July; Unemployment Rate Slips to 3.9%

Made in U.S.A.

The manufacturing sector has been strong recently and gained another 37,000 jobs in July. “We’re not seeing any impact from trade tensions, as it’s too early,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. Makers of machinery, fabricated metals and electrical equipment have been among the most aggressive in hiring.

Steel Ceilings in Johnstown, Ohio, hired two hourly workers last month and will hire another two this month if it can find appropriate candidates, said Rick Sandor, the company’s president. That’s not easy these days — shifts run from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., and temporary workers start at $14 per hour. So as the labor market has tightened, Mr. Sandor has eased up on the requirements for new hires.

In the past, he insisted on a couple of years’ experience in metal fabrication, but now settles for candidates who show mechanical skills, like carpentry or heating and cooling repair. Mr. Sandor is willing to waive the requirement for a high school diploma as well and has even hired applicants with what he terms “minor” prison sentences.

“If a person was truly trying to get their life back together, we thought it would be helpful to offer them a job,” Mr. Sandor said.

Where’s My Raise?

Despite the steady hiring gains and the low unemployment rate, wages have been growing just barely faster than inflation.

“People keep wondering when that magical kink will occur and wages will turn on a dime,” Ms. Zentner said. Not yet, she predicted. Although the low unemployment rate has produced pockets of labor shortages, she said, “it’s not economywide.”

One reason is that plenty of workers still seem to be coming off the bench. For July, the participation rate was 62.9 percent, unchanged from June.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/business/economy/july-jobs-report-2018.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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