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Slow and steady: July 2014 jobs report

The jobs report showed slight growth, but numbers have been slow to rise.
The jobs report showed slight growth, but numbers have been slow to rise.Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly Employment Situation Report – better known as the jobs report – earlier today. The numbers for July appear to be following the overall trend of the last several months, with change nearly imperceptible. Across the board, the unemployment numbers remained largely unchanged, and in some cases the number even edged back up. For instance, women – who enjoyed a slight dip in unemployment numbers last month – erased that progress and landed back at a 5.7% unemployment rate for July. This matched the adult male numbers, which remained unchanged at around 5.7%.

The jobs report showed many sectors adding jobs during the month, including professional and business services, manufacturing, retail, and construction. Leisure and hospitality also added jobs, though the employment rate in that industry remained steady. Also unchanged were the wholesale, transportation, information, financial, and governmental industries.

Many economists are still hopeful, despite the relative stagnation in the last several jobs reports. Any growth is good growth, and although the numbers may not have met expectations, the hope is that we will not see them fall any time soon. The US economy is still very much in a recovery pattern, though it does appear that the growth has slowed to a steady pace since the first of the year.

The unemployment numbers vary significantly on a state-by-state basis. According to the June numbers, North Dakota leads the pack with a 2.7% unemployment rate, followed by Nebraska, Utah, Vermont, and South Dakota – all checking in at 3.5%. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Rhode Island and Mississippi with a whopping 7.9% unemployment rate, followed by Nevada, Michigan, and Kentucky.

For employers this should be reassuring news, although it may mean changes to the landscape of hiring. Job seekers can breathe easy, knowing that the unemployment rate appears to be staving off a relapse into recession numbers. For those looking to get back into the talent pool, the timing may be right. The war for talent is raging on as hotly as ever. As the numbers in this month's jobs report shows, there are fewer and fewer long-term unemployed with each publication. This means that salaries should be more competitive and career opportunities more plentiful.

July's jobs report is far from bad news. Although we have not enjoyed tremendous growth in 2014, the numbers have been marching steadily in the right direction. Some economists balked at the slowdown in progress, but the overall trend seems to be positive. Many people are still wary from the low water mark of 2009, when the national unemployment rate peaked at 9.9%, but it is safe to say that the US economy is on much more stable ground than it was five years ago. Even in the last 12 months the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.1% and the number of long-term unemployed by 1.7Million. We will have to wait until next month's jobs report to find out what August will bring, but many are optimistic that the slow but sustained economic growth will continue.