The U.S. economy added more than 200,000 new jobs for the sixth consecutive month, a streak not seen since 1997.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said 209,000 new jobs were created in July across a broad swath of industries. Unemployment edged up slightly to 6.2 percent as a trickle of additional workers, perhaps buoyed by the job growth, reentered the labor market.
The BLS also adjusted upward its initial reports for May and June, adding another 15,000 jobs.
Higher-wage industries are hiring
Although the July jobs number was lower than the 230,000 or so economists were predicting, it comes on the heels of other upbeat news, including Wednesday’s Commerce Department report that said the economy grew at a robust 4 percent in the 2nd quarter. New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in eight years. And, two of the three publicly traded job boards posted significant gains in revenue and earnings. (A third — Monster — has yet to report.)
Now, the July jobs report shows employers in several traditionally higher-wage industries are feeling confident about hiring. Industries showing gains include:
- Construction added 22,000 jobs, with home builders expanding 6,100.
- Manufacturing grew 28,000 workers, with the biggest increase coming in motor vehicles and parts. But even the battered furniture industry added 3,200 jobs.
- Retail jobs increased by 26,700, with those in food and beverage and clothing adding 7,600 and 6,900 workers respectively.
- Health care was up 21,500, with the strongest increase coming in doctors offices and home health care. Hospitals cut 7,100 jobs.
- The professional and technical sector expanded by 24,900 jobs. This includes jobs in accounting (+5,200), architectural and engineering services (+8,800), and computers (+3,900).
- Restaurants and bars grew by 18,600 workers.
Little change in unemployment
Among the unemployed, the numbers changed little in July.
There were 9.7 million unemployed workers in July; 3.2 million of them have been out of work for more than six months. Another 7.5 million are working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs. There are also 2.2 million out of work, who aren’t officially counted as unemployed because they didn’t look for work during the government’s survey period, but have done so in the past few months.
When considered as a group, these so-called underutilized workers are 12.2 percent of the population.