US economy loses 247,000 jobs in July


The Employment Situation Summary for July was released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showing a 9.4% unemployment rate and 247,000 jobs lost in July.  These numbers were better than anticipated, with the unemployment rate actually falling from 9.5%.

In its release, the BLS emphasized the fact that employment figures are improving. While the language is neutral, it should be clear to anyone that the BLS is trying to intimate that the economy is improving:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in July (-247,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The average monthly job loss for May through July (-331,000) was about half the average decline for November through April (-645,000). In July, job losses continued in many of the major industry sectors.

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Manufacturing lost 52,000 jobs, retail 44,000 and business services 38,000. Transportation lost 22,000 jobs, information 16,000, while financial services shed 13,000.  On the other hand, health care added 20,000 jobs, while the workweek increased to 33.1 hours from an all-time low of 33.0 hours in June. Workers earned 3 cents more per hour on average as well.

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Translation: most industries are still losing workers, but at a slower pace.  Employment is still a weak link in the recovery chain.

Overall, this is a decent report given expectations. The glass half-full view would be that it shows we are well on our way to recovery. The glass half-empty view would be it shows employment is still a problem and could prevent a sustainable recovery.

As I have not had time to parse the data, I may have more to say later, time permitting. I know that Trimtabs had expected some heavy revisions but the headline number was much better than they had anticipated and more in line with Goldman’s revised more bullish outlook.

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