The American economy added 235,000 new jobs last month, 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at 145,000 jobs—nearly all of it in the private sector. The headline unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.7 percent. That’s not bad, and behind the scenes the news was even more positive. The labor force participation rate ticked up to 63 percent; the number of unemployed dropped by 107,000; 176,000 people joined the labor force; and the ranks of the employed went up by nearly half a million.
But how about wages? Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees went up at an annual rate of about 2.3 percent. That’s about even with the inflation rate last month, which means the real increase was close to zero. That’s disappointing given recent signs that wages were starting to make gains.