The July job report was an improvement on the previous month's, but still not great. Let's see how it broke down.

Unemployment and Payroll Numbers

Unemployment remained "essentially unchanged," in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' words, nudging up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent. This was despite an increase of 163,000 in nonfarm payrolls, more than double the increases in April, May and June and the best month in that department since February:

Public and private

Public employment continued to shrink, falling by 9,000 in July alone, reflecting continued austerity policies (note: the big increase in public employment in 2010 was due to the Census, rather than any stimulus policies):



The Hamilton Project notes that if the normal path of employment growth over the 2000s persisted, there would be 1.7 million more government jobs:

Source: Adam Looney and Michael Greenstone, The Hamilton Project.

Alternative unemployment measures


As I explained last month, the BLS releases six unemployment measures.There’s U3, the number that shows up in all the news article, which counts people who don’t have jobs, but have looked for one in the past four weeks, but U1, U2, U4, U5 and U6 exist as well.  U1 and U2 are usually lower than U3, and measure the percentage of people who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer and the percentage who have lost jobs or done temporary work in the period in question, respectively.U4, U5 and U6 are usually higher than U3. Each of these categories includes everyone in all the lower categories: all people in U3 are in U4, all people in U4 are in U5, and all people in U5 are in U6. U4 adds people who have stopped looking for work because they’ve concluded none is available. U5 adds people who would like to work but for whatever reason have not looked for work recently. U6 adds the underemployed, or part-time workers who want to be working full-time but cannot for whatever reason.

The six measures track each other fairly well, and the alternative metrics have stagnated along with U3 of late:


Different industries continue to exhibit widely varying degrees of success. Education, health, and mining and logging (including coal and oil) are doing fine, construction is struggling:
Wages continue to rise, albeit only for those lucky employed people earning them:

UPDATE: Just to put the above wage figures in a bit more of perspective, while wages are going up, the rate of growth has been stagnant: