US employers slowed their hiring in July, adding 157,000 jobs, a solid gain but below the healthy pace they maintained in the first half of this year.
Non-farm payrolls advanced 157,000 after an upwardly revised 248,000 increase, Labor Department figures showed Friday.
The smaller job gain likely reflected some one-time factors, analysts said. "There's no evidence that businesses are changing the way that they're hiring and spending".
"We are bringing unemployment way below 4.5 percent, which the Fed considers full employment", she said.
One weak spot for economy, however, is the housing market.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said that amid disappointing growth in wages, President Donald Trump's trade wars threatened to eat even further into workers' pay by pushing up inflation.
In its trade report, the Commerce Department said the U.S. deficit in goods and services rose 7.3% to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May.
Companies say they are struggling to find workers, with job openings higher than the number of unemployed for the first time in decades.
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With the USA unemployment rate near a five-decade low, companies are looking harder for employees, and in some cases finding them right at their own workplaces.
Despite the attention given to the "retail apocalypse", retailers have actually added 96,000 jobs in the past 12 months.
"It appears to be that the strength of fiscal stimulus measures are outweighing any kind of effect of trade tensions", said Wright from iCIMS.
Government employment fell by 13,000 jobs in July. In the service sector, hiring of 118,000 was the lowest since December, partly reflecting the cuts at Toys "R" Us.
Hiring in the goods-producing sector rose by 52,000, in line with its strong recent trend, while job growth in the service-providing sector moderated to 118,000 from outsized 182,000 and 204,000 gains in June and May, respectively.
Although the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.9%, it increased for the prime working-age cohort (25-54 years). Despite a fall in employment in the transportation and utilities sectors, the overall rate of unemployment dipped to 3.9 per cent in July from 4 per cent in June. The gauge includes part-time workers who'd prefer a full-time position and people who want a job but aren't actively looking.
Overall, there were almost 5.5 million people in July who wanted a job but weren't counted as unemployed, which is a drop from over 5.7 million a year ago.