Job growth held steady in July as private employers hired an additional 179,000 workers during the month, just slightly more than what economists were expecting.
The report this morning from HR services firm ADP shows that U.S. job growth continues strong, if down from the highs of 2015.
“Job growth remains strong, but is moderating as the economy approaches full employment,” explained Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which partners with ADP in producing the Monthly Employment Report.
“Businesses are having a more difficult time filling open job positions, which are near record highs. The nation’s biggest economic problem will soon be the lack of available workers.”
Small businesses in particular seem to be struggling to find workers. Those with fewer than 50 workers grew payrolls by 61,000 in July, down from the 86,000 in June. This year, these businesses on average have added 82,000 new jobs each month, well off last year’s average for the same seven months of 106,000.
In July, said the ADP report, mid-size and large employers added 68,000 and 50,000 new jobs respectively.
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Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute, said, “As the labor market continues to tighten, small businesses may increasingly face challenges when it comes to offering wages that can compete with larger businesses.”
Private sector job growth averaged 184,000 this year compared to 209,000 in 2015. The slowdown hit hardest in the second quarter when, according to the ADP numbers, monthly job growth averaged 169,000 new jobs compared to 230,000 last year.
However, Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, acknowledging that job growth was “a bit slower,” told The Wall Street Journal it was “still strong enough to keep the unemployment rate on a gradual downward trend.”
Indeed, economists expect that when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report, it will show the unemployment rate declined in July to 4.8 percent from June’s 4.9 percent. Additionally, surveys of labor economists show them expecting the government jobs report to show non-farm payrolls grew in a range from about 175,000 to 185,000.