The American economy added 98,000 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 8,000 jobs. That’s pretty dismal, but under the surface the news was better: the number of employed people went up by 472,000 and the number of unemployed declined by 326,000. As a result, the headline unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent.
Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees went up at an annual rate of about 2.3 percent for the second month in a row. That’s about even with the inflation rate, which means the real increase was close to zero. That’s disappointing given recent signs that wages were starting to make gains.