Legal Jobs Report: August 2015

Skilled workers are seeing strong hiring demand from employers. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the U.S. economy created 215,000 jobs for the month of July—down slightly from Wall Street’s expectations of 225,000. Employment gains took place in retail, food, health care, professional/technical services, and financial activities.

Legal Jobs Report for August 2015 - Chart Showing 215,000 New Jobs Added in July

Here’s a ranking of most job gains by industry:

  1. Retail trade: +36,000
  2. Food services and drinking places: +29,000
  3. Health care: +28,000
  4. Professional and technical services: +27,000
  5. Nondurable goods: +23,000
  6. Financial activities: +17,000
  7. Manufacturing: +15,000
  8. Transportation and warehousing: +14,000
  9. Management of companies and enterprises: +14,000
  10. Motor vehicle and parts dealers: +13,000
  11. Computer systems design and related services: +9,000
  12. Architectural andengineering services: +6,000
  13. General merchandise stores: +6,000

The average monthly gain over the previous 12 months is 246,000. However, optimistic portrayals of the U.S. business landscape should be tempered by more sober statistics, such as the labor participation rate remaining at historic lows (62.6 percent in July). Also, households continue to face wage stagnation across most industries.

While U.S. workers are becoming more productive in certain sectors, compensation growth is slowing down. On August 6, BLS released a report summarizing gains in labor productivity, defined as output per hour. In 2014, productivity rose in the following sectors:

  • 2.6 percent in wholesale trade
  • 1.9 percent in retail trade
  • 0.3 percent in food services and drinking places

Other economic trends

There’s growing speculation that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates sometime between September and December. August’s BLS jobs report will be closely-watched, and may have significant economic—and perhaps political—implications.

“This just makes it more likely that the [Federal Reserve] will move to raise rates in September,” saidDavid Vickers, a senior portfolio manager at Russell Investments in London. “The big risk for this release was that we would get a very low number, so there’s certainly some relief that that did not materialize.”

On foreign exchange, the strong dollar continues to benefit U.S. consumers and importers, as buyers see advantage in their growing purchasing power. Commodities such as oil and agricultural products are seeing lower prices mostly due to the historic rise of the U.S. greenback—and that’s resulting in lower fuel prices at the pump.

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