Job Growth Remains Steady, Focus Shifts to Wage Growth

August 03, 2018

Employers added 157,000 payroll jobs in July while the unemployment rate dropped back to 3.9 percent and overall wage growth remained relatively modest despite large gains in some industries.

May and June job growth were revised up to strong gains of 244,000 and 268,000 respectively, so it’s not surprising that hiring cooled a bit in July.

Average hourly wage growth remains stuck at 2.7 percent, but average weekly earnings increased 3.0 percent over the past year as employees are working more hours.  Separately, the BLS reported this week that wages and salaries increased 2.8 percent for the 12-month period ending in June 2018, the most since 2008.

Hourly wage growth varies significantly by industry.  Construction (3.2%), leisure and hospitality (3.2%) and financial activities industries (4.8%) all ran above 3.0 percent, while manufacturing (1.3%) and wholesale trade (1.0%) scored below average.

Four industries accounted for over 70 percent of the job growth.

  • Manufacturing (+37,000);
  • Employment services, including temporary help (+31,400);
  • Bars and restaurants (+26,200); and
  • Construction (+19,000).

Hobby, toy, and game stores (-32,000), local government (-20,000) and education services (-10,800) lost jobs, which held down overall job growth for the month, while most other industries were little changed.