July's employment report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, was very much more of the same: Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 215,000 in July, which is almost exactly the average monthly increase we've seen over the past 12 months. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.3 percent. This keeps the Fed on track to raise short-term interest rates this year, maybe in September, since the jobless rate is already where Fed officials had forecast it to be by year-end.
Deeper in the figures, there's a little bit of worrisome news: The broader unemployment rate, including people stuck in part-time jobs and those who haven’t looked for work in at least a month, was still at 10.4 percent in July, down from 10.5 percent in June. That figure is still considerably higher than it was in November 2007, when the recession started; it was at 8.4 percent then.
In addition, the labor force participation rate remained stuck at 62.6 percent in July. Before touching that low in recent months, we hadn't seen that level since October 1977.