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US adds a solid 213,000 jobs; unemployment up to 4 pct

08 July 2018

Economists were forecasting that June was another strong month for the US labor market, with nonfarm payrolls expected to have grown by 195,000 during the month with the unemployment rate holding steady at an 18-year low of 3.8%, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

On the same day that the Trump administration began imposing tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports and China retaliated with their own tariffs, the job gain showed that the 9-year old USA economic expansion - the second-longest on record - remains on solid ground for the moment. Average hourly earnings are 2.7 percent higher than a year ago, a lackluster pace compared to past eras of healthy job growth when wages were rising at 3.5 percent or more a year.

Amid news of May's record-low unemployment rate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shifted attention to allegedly stagnant wage growth under Trump. Normally, a tight labor market encourages employers to pay more to attract and retain workers.

Data for April and May was revised to show 37,000 more jobs created than previously reported. With upward revisions to the data from the prior two months, the average gain over the last three months was 211,000.

FBN's Edward Lawrence breaks down the June jobs report.

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The professional and business services sector added 50,000 new positions, manufacturing rose by 36,000, while the fabricated metals industry, which is at the heart of Trump's current trade battle, added 7,000 new workers. But retailers cut 21,600 jobs last month, after boosting payrolls by 25,100 in May. But for now the sector, which accounts for about 12 per cent of the US economy, appears in good health. That belief has been one justification they've been using for being cautious on rate hikes. The number, however, did come down from its nine-year high in May of 3.9 per cent.

The economy also faces a substantial threat from the trade tension with China and from other trade disputes with USA allies, including Canada and Europe.

On the negative side, the unemployment rate for black workers increased 0.6 percentage points to 6.5 percent from the record low hit in May. Any escalation in the conflict with China could disrupt hiring as companies grapple with higher import prices and diminished demand for their exports.

President Donald Trump and Republicans are running on a growing economy going into the 2018 midterm elections, especially since Trump signed the Republican tax reform plan into law at the end of 2017. Prices for US Treasuries rose. That followed an increase of 5,000 jobs in May.

US adds a solid 213,000 jobs; unemployment up to 4 pct