The American economy gained 164,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at 74,000 jobs. This is a modest number, but it happened for all the right reasons. BLS recorded 283,000 newly employed plus another 183,000 who have left the sidelines and re-entered the labor force. Both the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio ticked upward slightly.
On the wage side of things, the news was tepid. Hourly wages for blue-collar workers were up at an annual rate of about 0.5 percent after adjusting for inflation. That’s nothing to write home about. What’s worse, the number of hours worked went down, so average weekly wages declined at an annual rate of about 1.6 percent. This continues a trend from last year of workers getting fewer hours, which is now down to its post-recession level.
The upshot of all this is that weekly blue-collar wages have been slowly declining ever since the beginning of the 2019. July was just the latest drop.