Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Total nonfarm employment fell by 131,000 in July, as government jobs declined by 202,000 and private payrolls grew by a less-than-expected 71,000. Most of the government losses in July were due to the termination of 143,000 temporary Census positions, as was the case in June, when government employment declined by 252,000. Downward revisions to May and June’s total payroll figures amounted to 97,000, leaving May with a slightly smaller gain of 432,000 and June with a much larger loss of 221,000.
Private payroll gains were evenly shared between goods-producing and service-providing industries. Within goods-producing industries, gains were led by manufacturing, which tacked on 36,000 jobs in July and has expanded solidly since January. Construction, on the other hand, continued to struggle amidst a still-weak housing market, losing 11,000 jobs over the month following a 21,000 loss in June. Within services, payroll gains were most notably led by health services (27,800) and trade, transportation, and utilities (25,000). At the same time, the largest losses came from the financial activities sector (17,000) and professional and business services (13,000). In the nine months since last September, temporary help services has added nearly 370,000 jobs and has largely driven the positive performance in the professional and business services sector as a whole over that period. It comes as no surprise, then, that July’s loss of professional and business services jobs was accompanied by the first net decline in temporary help positions in nine months.
Despite July’s drop in total payroll employment, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.5 percent, but only because 181,000 people exited the labor force. Over the last three months alone, the labor force has contracted by more than 1.1 million people. The employment-to-population ratio—considered a less noisy indicator of labor market stress—ticked down for the third straight month, from 58.5 percent to 58.4 percent in June. It now stands 4.3 percentage points below its level at the onset of the recession.