U.S. payrolls grow while jobless rate holds steady

Payrolls continue to grow in the United States even as the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased 164,000 in July. The jobless rate held steady at 3.7 percent.

The initial estimate for payroll gains in June was revised downward 31,000 to 193,000. The estimate for May was revised downward 10,000 to 62,000.

The July gain was about the same as the average monthly increase for payrolls through the first half of 2019. Payrolls increased an average of 223,000 a month in 2018.

For July, 6.1 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work. Of those, 1.2 million have been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 4 million people were counted among those working part time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate edged up a tenth of a point to 63 percent.

Payroll gains for July were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Professional and technical services added 31,000 jobs, while health care employment increased 30,000 and social assistance payrolls grew 20,000. Employment increased 18,000 in financial activities, 16,000 in manufacturing and 4,000 in construction.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls slipped a tenth of an hour to 34.3 hours. The average manufacturing workweek shortened three-tenths of an hour to 40.4 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 8 cents to $27.98. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 3.2 percent.