The Labor Department reported the economy added 255,000 jobs in July. With the June number revised up to 292,000, the average for the last three months now stands at 190,000. The job gains were broadly based. Health care added 43,200 jobs, professional and technical services added 37,400, while the government sector added 38,000. Much of the last figure was due to education, which added 26,700 jobs in the month. Part of this is due to timing, with many schools starting earlier and having teachers begin preparations in July. There was also an uptick in hours worked, with the index of aggregate weekly hours rising by 0.5 percent.
The household data was also positive. The number of people reported as employed rose by 420,000 after being virtually flat the prior three months. With new people entering the labor force, the employment-to-population ratio edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 50.7 percent, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent.
One interesting note is that the least educated workers appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of recent job growth. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) for workers without high school degrees rose by 2.1 percentage points for the month and is 1.6 percentage points above its year ago level. The unemployment rate for this group is 1.9 percentage points below the year ago level. By contrast, the EPOP for college grads is down by 0.5 percentage points from its year ago level, while the unemployment rate is unchanged.