The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added 117,000 jobs in July, sending the unemployment rate down a tenth of a percent to 9.1 percent.
The job gains were higher than expected, with analysts predicting a gain of about 85,000 jobs. The announcement came a day after stocks plunged more than 4 percent on both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes, with the Dow tumbling 512.46 points and the S&P 60.21 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 136.68 points, or 5.08 percent, according to Reuters.
The Labor Department reported that job gains occurred in the health care, retail, manufacturing, and mining industries. Government employment continued to trend down, however.
The number of unemployed persons (13.9 million) and the unemployment rate (9.1 percent) changed little in July, the BLS noted. Since April, the unemployment rate has shown little definitive movement. The labor force, at 153.2 million, was little changed in July.
The BLS also revised upward the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for both May and June. For May, the number was revised from a gain of 25,000 jobs to a gain of 53,000, while the change for June was revised from an increase of 18,000 jobs to a gain of 46,000.
Still, the overall gains were modest, and the economic recovery has been showing signs of a slowdown.
“While any private sector job growth is preferred to job loss, today’s small increase demonstrates that the economic recovery has not taken hold,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., in a statement. “For too long, too many in Washington have professed that the best way to boost confidence and job creation is to spend money that we don’t have. An unemployment rate above 8 percent for 30 consecutive months and a national debt that equals 100 percent of America’s gross domestic product clearly shows that Washington can’t afford to keep spending its way to job creation. It is time for Washington to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Rather than returning to the same failed Washington spending policies, we must restore America’s confidence by working together to implement pro-growth, pro-job solutions. Those solutions start with spending less, advancing our pending trade agreements and transforming our broken Tax Code.”
President Obama is expected to propose on Friday expanded tax breaks for businesses that hire veterans. The Transportation Department has also reached an agreement with the Senate that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and put thousands air transportation employees back to work, while reinstating airline ticket taxes, which had temporarily expired.
“Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 154,000 in July and the unemployment rate ticked down to 9.1 percent,” wrote Austan Goolsbee, the outgoing chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, on the White House blog. “The economy has added 2.4 million private sector jobs over the past 17 months, despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds in the first half of the year. While the better than expected report is welcome news, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow – such as measures to extend both the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as passing the pending free trade agreements with re-employment assistance for displaced workers, the patent reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to help put Americans back to work. This week we averted an economic catastrophe by avoiding a default and putting in place an important down payment on long term deficit reduction. We will continue to work with Congress to build on these efforts to achieve a broader balanced deficit reduction agreement that instills confidence and allows us to live within our means without shortchanging future growth.”
Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, noted that the latest jobs report underscored the need to provide extended unemployment benefits.
“Today’s jobs report, while more promising than expected, illustrates the importance of continuing emergency unemployment benefits,” he said in a statement. “There are nearly 14 million Americans still looking for work. Never in history have so many been unemployed for so long.”
He noted that Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits are set to expire at the end of the year, and 6.2 million Americans have been unemployed longer than 26 weeks. The average weekly unemployment benefit is $298.62. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that extending the program through next year would create $70 billion in economic activity and a 0.4 percent bump in GDP.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access