Job creation slowed markedly last month and missed economists’ projections, dealing a setback to the belief that the economy will pick up steam in the second half of the year.
True, the unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey, fell by more than expected — to 7.4% from 7.6% a month ago — but there’s no way around the fact that hiring was disappointing in July.
Non-farm payrolls expanded by just 162,000 last month, the Department of Labor said Friday, well below economists’ average forecast for the economy to add 185,000 workers to payrolls last month, according to a survey by Bloomberg.
The July figure breaks a three-month streak of solid jobs gains and represents a steep drop from the year-to-date average of 192,000 net new jobs a month.
However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs greatly depended on the industry they were targeting.
Drilling down into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ July Employment Situation Report showed areas of strength in retail trade, food services and drinking places, financial activities, and wholesale trade.
The best industry for job-seekers was retail trade, which added 47,000 jobs in July and has added 352,000 during the past 12 months, the Labor Department said. Within retail trade, the best places to find jobs were general merchandise stores, motor vehicle and parts dealers, building material and garden supply stores, and health and personal care stores.
The leisure and hospitality industry — led by restaurants and bars — gained 38,000 positions in July and has added 381,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
Another area of hiring strength was professional and business services, which added 36,000 jobs in July, led by management of companies and enterprises, and technical consulting services. Temp hiring was little changed last month, the Labor Department said.
Financial activities employment increased by 15,000 in July, led by securities, commodity contracts and investments. The financial sector has added 120,000 jobs over the past year.
Wholesale trade once again made the list of top places for job-seekers, adding 14,000 jobs last month. The industry has gained 83,000 positions over the last 12 months.
On the other side of the ledger, working for the federal government once again proved to offer a lack of job security, as the sequester continued to take a toll. Federal government employment dropped by 2,000 last month (led by losses at the U.S. Postal Service), and has now decreased by 67,000 during the past year.
State government workers also received more pink slips in July, with a total decrease of 3,000 jobs, led by positions in education.
The construction industry was also a net loser of jobs. It shed 6,000 positions, led by nonresidential specialty contractors, and heavy and civil engineering.
Another area of weakness was transit and ground passenger transportation, which lost 8,600 jobs. Air transportation also shed workers.
Other industries posting job losses last month included food manufacturing, computer and electronic products, hospitals, and child daycare services.