Ifs, Ands, and Buts

July job growth applauded; but how real is it?

255,000 jobs were added in July in the United States. That’s the short of it, and that alone is enough to merit national headlines and conversational optimism. The surrounding chatter has been thicker than usual for a job report, mainly because this figure exceeded projections. It helps that it’s an election year, so more people have the employment meter on their radar. Just make sure you take a bespectacled look at the BLS report before you get too excited.

While the spike in hiring was quickly referred to as “robust…exceptionally strong” (The Wall Street Journal) and a number that “demolished expectations” (CNBC), it wasn’t all growth, and even when it was, the effects were limited by sector. Manufacturing, for example, was responsible for 9,000 of the 255,000 new jobs. Depending on what you read, this is spun as anything from “promising” to “unchanged”…probably best settled at a reception of “modest”.

Although July exceeded expectations in employment, there are reasons for caution. —Bureau of Labor Statistics image

Although July exceeded expectations in employment, there are reasons for caution. Click on the chart to enlarge. —Bureau of Labor Statistics image

That being said, the 9,000 came mostly from automotive and transportation divisions. For industries more closely linked to electromechanical repair? Both semiconductors and electronic components lost about 3,000 jobs each. The mining and logging division didn’t reflect the overall numbers, either: it lost 7,000 jobs and “continued to trend down”. That wording and all numbers above come from the original BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) report released on August 5.

Despite the fact that manufacturing technology orders made a 17.5 percent gain in June compared to May, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report from AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. At the end of the first half of 2016, orders are down 15.8 percent compared to the midpoint of 2015. AMT also expects “current market forecasts indicate 2016 orders will finish lower than 2015.”

Other reasons for measured caution are aplenty: Investors now have additional concerns about the prospects of a seemingly imminent federal tax hike; as to when it will come and how it will be altered by the July numbers…Despite the increase in positions filled, the unemployment rate remained stagnant at 4.9%…Analysts and politicians alike continue to express concerns about the overall slow recovery rate from a recession nearly ten years past…and further annual projections expect the increases to slow in upcoming months.



  1. Positions Available | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - August 10, 2017

    […] month. This marks a new record, far exceeding the previous mark of 5.97 million vacancies set in July of last year. A handful of sectors responsible for these openings are familiar; many owe their lack of hiring to […]

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