Partly reflecting a drop in government employment and the closing of Toys “R” Us stores, the Labor Department released a report on Friday showing much weaker than expected U.S. job growth in the month of July.
The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 157,000 jobs in July compared to economist estimates for a jump of about 190,000 jobs.
However, the report also showed upward revisions to the increases in employment in May and June, which surged up by 268,000 jobs and 248,000 jobs, respectively.
With the upward revisions, employment gains in May and June combined were 59,000 more than previously reported.
The weaker than expected job growth in July was partly due to a drop in government employment, which fell by 13,000 jobs as some teachers were laid off for the summer.
The report also showed a loss of 32,000 jobs at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores due in part to Toys “R” Us closing its stores following the company’s bankruptcy filing.
Meanwhile, notable job growth was seen in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, and temporary help services.
Despite the smaller than expected increase in employment, the unemployment rate dipped to 3.9 percent in July after rising to 4.0 percent in June. The modest drop matched expectations.
The pullback in the unemployment rate came as the household survey measure of employment showed a jump of 389,000, easily outpacing the 105,000 person increase in the labor force.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the annual rate of average hourly employee earnings growth was unchanged from the previous month at 2.7 percent.
Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics, said gradually firming wages, steady labor force participation, and falling unemployment is expected to persist into the second half of the year.
“We expect around 180,000 jobs per month to be added through the rest of 2018,” Daco said. “In this context, we continue to foresee four Fed rate hikes in 2018, unless trade policy foils these plans.”