209,000: The economy created 209,000 jobs in July, well above this year’s average monthly gain of 184,000. It added 231,000 jobs in June. Job growth this year is just a touch below last year’s average monthly increase of 187,000. The takeaway: The labor market’s long expansion is showing no signs of exhaustion. There’s still room to run.
4.3%: The jobless rate fell by a tenth of percentage point to 4.3%, matching May as the lowest level of unemployment in 16 years. It declined despite an expansion in the labor force. That suggests the growing labor market is slowly drawing more Americans off the sidelines and into the job search, and that employers are hiring many of them. The drop could also nudge the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates. Unemployment is already below the Fed’s projection for long-run joblessness of between 4.5% and 4.8%.
2.5%: The average hourly wage for private-sector workers grew 2.5% in July. That’s a modest pace historically, but it looks better when considering inflation is so low. Real wages are growing at a solid pace. Over the month, average hourly wages grew 9 cents on average, or 0.34%.