U.S. job growth was likely solid in June despite trade risks

Donald Trump

Therefore, June's level of total U.S.jobs is now +250,000 (i.e., the sum of 213,000 and 37,000) versus what was reported by the BLS a month ago.

The professional and business services sector added 50,000 new positions, manufacturing rose by 36,000, while the fabricated metals industry, which is at the heart of Trump's current trade battle, added 7,000 new workers.

The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one, rose to 62.9 percent last month from 62.7 percent in May.

Still, average hourly pay rose just 2.7 per cent in June from 12 months earlier, meaning that after adjusting for inflation, wages remain almost flat. The U.S. central bank increased interest rates last month for the second time this year and has projected two more rate hikes by year end. Construction jobs have increased by 282,000 over the year to meet housing demand, and mining has tacked on 95,000 jobs as energy prices jump.

For workers, a hot job market is a good thing, resulting in what so far have been modest increases in wages.

Workers who haven't gone to college accounted for all of this month's net increase in the labor force and employment.

But the Trump administration's "America First" trade policy, which has tipped the United States into a trade war with China poses a risk to the labor market and economy.

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A long run of impressive monthly job creation is among the main reasons why the projections of economists, in both the private and public sectors, have continued to be bullish for US growth, despite growing uncertainty about the rest of the global economy and the threat of a trade war. Pay increases remain the missing part. Fed officials last month boosted the number of interest-rate hikes they expect in 2018 to four from three.

Economists have estimated that 195,000 jobs were added last month and that the unemployment rate remained at an 18-year low of 3.8 per cent, according to data provider FactSet.

But average, hourly earnings increased in both May and June, according to BLS numbers. Trump has spoken about slapping tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, which General Motors has warned could hurt the US auto industry and drive up vehicle prices. This means that workers' wages will likely fall behind the rate of inflation, which in May reached 2.8 percent.

Washington is also engaged in fights with other major trade partners, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union after President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. There are also growing fears of global disruptions as a trade fight escalates between the US and China. Economists say the effects could include companies freezing future investment and potentially additional hiring, which would eventually have a cooling effect on the jobs figures in coming months.

Nearly half of June's construction jobs increase (+13,000) occurred in the "heavy and civil engineering" category, +6,000.

"Leisure and hospitality" also registered a nice gain in jobs in the latest month, +25,000, led by "food services and drinking places", +16,000.

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