· Total non-farm payroll employment rose 209 thousand in July, following an increase of 231 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 205 thousand in July, while government employment increased by 4 thousand. Job gains occurred in food services and drinking places, professional and business services and health care. The average monthly gain in employment was 184 thousand per month thus far this year.
· The unemployment rate edged down to 4.3% in July, from 4.4% in June. The unemployment rate was 4.9% in July 2016.
· The number of unemployed increased by 4 thousand to 6.981 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 127 thousand to 1.785 million and accounted for 25.9% of the unemployed.
· The labor force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage point to 62.9% in July, but has shown no clear trend over the past 12 months.
· The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours.
· In July, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents to $26.36. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.5%.
· Unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in 336 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 45 areas, and unchanged in 7 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 342 metropolitan areas, decreased in 39 areas, and was unchanged in 7 areas.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 5 thousand to 240 thousand in the week ending July 29. The 4-week moving average was 241.75 thousand, a decrease of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending July 22 was 1,968 thousand, an increase of 3 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,964.75 thousand, an increase of 0.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
· New orders for manufactured goods increased 3.0% in June, following a 0.3% decrease in the previous month. Shipments decreased 0.2%, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. Year-to-date new orders were up 5.6%, and shipments were up 4.5%.
· Sales of domestic cars increased 2.7% in July, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 0.6%. Total vehicle sales were 16.7 million units in July, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 17.3 million in January 2017, and 17.8 million in July of 2016.
· June construction spending was down 1.3% from the previous month, but was up 1.6% from a year ago. Residential construction decreased 0.3% in June, while nonresidential construction decreased 2.0%. Total private construction decreased 0.1% in June, while total public construction decreased 5.4%.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates were mostly unchanged. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.93% for the week ending August 3, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.92%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.43%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.18% for the week ending August 3, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.30%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.74%.
· The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in July, and the overall economy grew for the 98th consecutive month.