The U.S. economy added 164,000 jobs in July and unemployment held steady at 3.7 percent.
Economists surveyed by Econoday had forecast a gain of 151,000 for July and for unemployment to decline slightly to 3.6 percent.
While the economy has continued to grow this summer, it has shown signs of slowing from the rapid 3.1 percent rate of growth in the first three months of the year. Manufacturing has been a weak spot while consumer spending and the labor market have been strong. Economic growth slowed to a 2.1 percent rate in the April through June period.
Employment in health care rose by 30,000 over the month, almost entirely made up of gains in ambulatory health care services. Health care employment has increased by 405,000 over the year, with ambulatory health care services accounting for about two-thirds of the gain.
Mining employment declined by 5,000 in July and has been sluggish for several months.
Manufacturing employment grew by 16,000 for the month and has generally slowed this year compared with last. Job gains in the industry had averaged 22,000 per month in 2018. This year it has averaged just 8,000.
This week Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said weakness around the globe may also be weighing on the U.S. economy by reducing demand for U.S. exports. And uncertainty around trade may also be making businesses hesitant to invest. The Fed on Wednesday announced a one-quarter percentage point cut to its benchmark interest rate.
With unemployment near 50-year lows, job growth has slowed. Employment growth has averaged around 165,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.
The very poor May jobs figure was revised even further down by 10,000 from 72,000 to 62,000. June’s bounce-back was revised down by 31,000 to 193,000, making the rebound less impressive.
Despite very low unemployment, wage growth remains muted. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent.