US employers add 157000 jobs; jobless rate falls to 3.9%

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"For the second consecutive month, the unemployment rate for Hispanics reached a record low", the statement added.

■ The unemployment ratefell to 3.9 percent, from 4 percent.

On Friday, China's Commerce Ministry said a new set of proposed import tariffs on $60 billion worth of USA goods are rational and restrained and warned that it reserves the right of further countermeasures in the intensifying trade war.

US employers slowed their hiring in July, adding 157,000 jobs, a solid gain but below the healthy pace they maintained in the first half of this year.

The unemployment rate in the United States dropped to 3.9% in July from 4% in June. The White House has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium and on $34 billion of imports from China, and several companies have hit US imports with retaliatory duties.

Average hourly pay gains remained modest, increasing 2.7 percent from a year earlier, the same as the previous two months.

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Goods-producing jobs, which have been adding workers at a robust clip in recent quarters, posted further gains: The manufacturing sector increased payrolls by 37,000, the most since December and exceeding projections for 25,000. That's below the 215,000 average for the first seven months this year, but economists said the slip will likely prove temporary. That kept the annual increase in wages at 2.7 percent in July.

The government upwardly revised June jobs additions to 248,000 from the prior 213,000.

One weak spot for economy, however, is the housing market.

There have also been concerns that the trade tensions could dampen business confidence and lead companies to shelve spending and hiring plans. It's been relatively flat for the past few years, as people return from the sidelines to find work while baby boomers retire and exert downward pressure on the measure. Construction companies hired 19,000 more workers after increasing payrolls by 13,000 jobs in June. The gauge includes part-time workers who'd prefer a full-time position and people who want a job but aren't actively looking.

Hary Bottka, senior vice president at Randstad Sourceright, which manages hiring for clients in the manufacturing, financial services and health care industries, says companies are increasingly thinking about converting contract workers, over time, to permanent employees. The U.S. central bank said "the labor market has continued to strengthen and economic activity has been rising at a strong rate". Mortgage rates have also increased in the past year, lifting monthly payments and making many homes even less affordable.