In my inaugural three on three series, I will highlight three positives and three negatives that can be gleaned from July’s unemployment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
As for three positive takeaways,
- We saw the unemployment rate fall from 7.6 percent to 7.4 percent over the last month, and also experienced job growth of 162,000, which represents thirty-four consecutive months of positive job growth.
- A broader measure of unemployment (U-6) also decreased over the last year and is now down to 14 percent from 14.9 percent last year.
- Prospects of the long-term unemployed showed improvement with the median length of unemployment down from 16.8 weeks last July to to its current rate of 15.7 weeks.
However, there were also some negative takeaways, such as:
- This was the slowest amount of job growth since March and it fell short of analyst expectations of 180,000 jobs that were expected to be generated.
- Most of the job growth occurred in seasonal industries, such as retail trade and food services, while manufacturing and construction activity remain stagnant.
- While the labor force did not shrink much over the last year, the number of discouraged workers increased from 852,000 to 988,000.
In summary, the July jobs report was adequate, but little suggests that momentum is rising. The next three months will be critical as we will see whether sequestration and congressional gridlock will darken future job prospects.