Hicks: Hidden Concerns Among Healthy Job Numbers

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Mike Hicks is the director of the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research. Mike Hicks is the director of the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research.

Ball State University economist Michael Hicks believes Friday’s labor market report looks good from the outside but contains mixed signals, including downward revisions from previous months. The U.S. Department of Labor on Friday reported 164,000 workers joined the payrolls during July. The unemployment rate for the country remains unchanged at 3.7 percent for the second straight month. 

“This looks great but embedded within the jobs report were several mixed signals,” said Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “Employment gains were concentrated in healthcare and professional and technical services, the latter category may be primarily temporary employment agencies.”

The Labor Department says with a growing share of Americans already with jobs, the pace of hiring has slowed. 

Hicks also says the big concern is continued downward revisions which have occurred several times in 2019. “Revisions this month cut 41,000 jobs from the May and June report. This cut is based on administrative data received by the Labor Department.  It is very likely this report will be downgraded as well in the coming months.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. has seen the monthly job growth average around 165,000, but that’s well below the 223,000 monthly average in 2018.

The Labor Department also reports wages increased 3.2% compared to last year.

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