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U.S. economy adds 215,000 jobs in July

The economy added 215,000 jobs in July, the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Friday, in what analysts called a solid, if not spectacular, month of employment gains. 

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3 percent, but thousands of jobs were added in health care, financial services and, most notably, manufacturing.

Wages, however, are still growing at a sluggish 2.1 percent pace, the Labor Department reported. Hourly wages rose 5 cents to $24.99.

Although the total jobs gains fell in just under expectations, some analysts said the report is solid enough for the Federal Reserve Board to consider raising interest rates in September.

“The report for July showed continued improvement in the job market,” Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said.

Fratantoni noted that while the unemployment rate remained unchanged, some part-time workers moved to full-time positions.

“The pace of wage growth picked up a bit, and workers were putting in longer hours, an indication that employment growth is likely to stay strong in the months ahead,” Fratantoni said. “This report is strong enough to meet the Fed’s criteria for raising short-term rates in September.”

Ryan Severino, senior economist at Reis, said the 15,000 net gains in manufacturing was notable, indicating that the slump is over. He also noted the underemployment rate fell to a seven-year low, and the shift to more full-time jobs should help the retail sector. 

"All in all, a decent report," Severino said. 

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), said that the slow pace of wage growth is cause for concern because the cost of houses and rents are rising much faster.

He also noted that the construction industry did not add jobs in the month, a fact that is disappointing because home inventories are down and more single-family homes need to be built.

“People are getting squeezed on housing,” Yun said. “To relieve that, we need to produce more homes.”  


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