U.S. unemployment drops, now equals Mass. rate

Filed Under: Other News

By Colin A. Young

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July and the national unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 4.3 percent, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday morning, though economists warned that wage growth remains in a rut.

The news was well-received on Wall Street, where U.S. stocks opened higher Friday morning foreshadowing the potential of another record-breaking day for the markets. The Dow Jones industrial average crossed the 22,000 mark for the first time in its history on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump cheered the news Friday morning, tweeting “Excellent Jobs Numbers just released – and I have only just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!”

Influenced by a growing labor market, the Massachusetts unemployment rate stood at 4.3 percent after June. The jobless rate here has climbed more than a full point since the start of the year, having risen all but one month since hitting a low of 2.9 percent in November.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston this week released updated economic information for Massachusetts which showed unemployment is highest in the New Bedford area (6 percent) and lowest in the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua economic area (3.8 percent). Every region of Massachusetts has a higher unemployment rate than a year ago.

The Labor Department also announced Friday that the average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls rose by 9 cents, or roughly 0.3 percent, in July to $26.36. So far this year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent, the department said.

The Wall Street Journal categorized July’s wage growth as continuing at an “unspectacular level” and pegged true wage growth, after factoring in inflation, at about 1 percent. And while the economy is adding jobs, it is not adding high-paying jobs.

The largest number of jobs gains were in the category of “food services and drinking places,” which added 53,000 jobs in July. But that sector of the labor market, falling under the “leisure and hospitality” industry, has the lowest average weekly wages, according to the Labor Department.

“Today’s jobs report continues a positive trend as the U.S. economy keeps rolling along and labor market tightness remains,” Tony Bedikian, head of Capital Markets at Citizens Bank, said in a statement. “The stock market is in record territory once again and GDP is rising.”

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