The unemployment rate declined to 7.4%, from 7.6%, partly because more workers stopped looking for jobs. The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been since December 2008.
The numbers describe an economy that is growing, but slowly – about 1.4% in the year’s first half.
Worrisome, too, is that many of the jobs that were added last month were in lower-wage industries like food services and retail. In fact, average hourly earnings fell slightly last month. So did hours worked.
Bottom line: more Americans are working, but our incomes are stalled. In fact, some measures of real, or inflation-adjusted earnings, are lower than they were during the Reagan era.
The greatest stagnation is in the bottom half of the income scale. Over the long term, that’s a problem for a country that depends so much on consumers – and not just the highest-paid 50% of them — having money to spend.