July job growth up slightly; recovery still on pace

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy still has a pulse, as evidenced in the slight increase of jobs in July as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. According to the latest employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, 117,000 jobs were added in July, with the greatest job gains coming in health care (31,000), retail (26,000) and the manufacture of durable goods (more than 24,000). The unemployment was little changed, dropping to 9.1%, the BLS reported.

The question is whether that pulse is strengthening or weakening.

“Americans are breathing a sigh of relief that unemployment numbers are taking a step in the right direction," stated Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. "As an industry that provides jobs to more than 40 million Americans, consumer confidence in our economy and our government could not be more crucial as retailers inch closer to the holiday season.”

The report certainly came in stronger than Wall Street expected. According to published reports, economists had forecast a gain of just 85,000 in non-farm payrolls with the unemployment rate holding steady at 9.2%. Combine the July report with news that May and June employment figures were underreported by some 56,000 new jobs, and the data suggests that recovery forecasts remain on track. According to some reports, the report will ease pressure on the U.S. Federal Reserve to take new action in effort to spark growth. The Federal Reserve meets on Tuesday.