As for-hire trucking employment hit its highest level in more than eight years, total non-farm employment in the U.S. increased by 215,000 jobs in July while the unemployment rate remained unchanged.

In the for-hire trucking sector there were 2,800 job gains in July from June, putting its total employment number at more than 1.46 million, its highest level in more than eight years. Meantime, the wider transportation and warehousing sector recorded an increase of 14,400 jobs during July.

The overall employment gain was less than June’s improvement of 231,000, but the unemployment rate remained at 5.3%, the lowest in more than seven years. The labor force participation rate, however, was also unchanged, remaining near a four-decade low, according to the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

The labor force participation rate measures the share of Americans at least 16 years old who are either employed or actively looking for work. A low rate is sometimes seen as a sign that the job situation is so bad that people have simply given up on finding work, but in reality there are many factors in play, from retiring Baby Boomers to a declining rate of women in the workforce to people whose skills no longer match up with current job openings becoming unemployable.

Employment gains for June and May were upwardly revised by a total of 14,000.

The biggest number of overall jobs gains occurred in the retail, health care, professional and technical services and financial activities fields, according to the report.

“At 215,000, the July rise was certainly a disappointment, falling short of expectations,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel Fixed Income. “However, upward revisions to the previous two months helped compensate for the slower-than-expected pace. Still, following a 260,000 rise in May, payroll growth has slowed now for the second consecutive month, falling further towards 200,000, the bare minimum of expectations for monthly job gains.”

From the perspective of the Federal Reserve, which has indicated it wants to push interest rates higher this year, this morning’s report was hardly suggestive of improvement, she noted.

“At best, committee members can conclude ‘more of the same.’ However, status quo is hardly a step in the right direction, making it difficult for the Fed to justify a near-term rate increase,” Piegza said. “Of course, for those that are blinded by this ‘need’ for a rate increase, regardless of whether or not the economy is ready, well, through rose-colored glasses, this morning’s report looks good enough."

 

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