Obama Delivers While Republicans… Not So Much
Republicans Find The Time To File Frivolous Lawsuits. However, They Are Unable To Secure Enough Votes To Secure The Nations Borders.
The sudden canceling of the vote on the $659 million border bill was an embarrassment to Republican leaders elected in the wake of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary upset in June.
Nonfarm employment rose by a seasonally adjusted 209,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday. Payrolls rose by 298,000 in June, revised up from an earlier estimate of 288,000, and May's gain was revised up to 229,000 from an earlier estimate of 224,000.
July's gain extended a streak that has seen nonfarm employers add 200,000 or more jobs in six consecutive months for the first time since 1997. Payroll gains have averaged 245,000 over the past three months, and July's 209,000 new positions matched the monthly average in the 12 months ended in June.
Jobs Report: U.S. Employers Add 209,000 Positions
Unemployment Ticks Up to 6.2%; Six Straight Months of 200,000 Jobs for First Time Since '97
Hiring by U.S. employers remained robust in July, if a bit slower than previous months, with a broad-based rise in payrolls extending a half-year streak of strong employment gains.
"Taken as a whole, the latest six monthly jobs reports are consistent with the view that the economy is well underpinned, at least for the time being, which is a message being flashed by a broad array of other indicators as well," Joshua Shapiro, MFR Inc.'s chief U.S. economist, said in a note to clients.
To be sure, unemployment remains elevated and the labor market is far from fully healed. The unemployment rate, obtained via a separate survey of households, ticked up to a seasonally adjusted 6.2% in July from 6.1% in June. The rise in part reflects an increase in the number of people looking for jobs, some of whom are now being counted as unemployed.
The labor-force participation rate ticked up slightly in July, to 62.9% from 62.8% in June, though it remained near its lowest level since the late 1970s.
The jobless rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points since July 2013, when it was 7.3%.
"The solid rise in the number of job seekers thus far this year is a sign of growing confidence in the economy on the part of employers and would-be employees," PNC Financial Services Group senior economist Gus Faucher said in a note to clients.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to rise by a more robust 230,000 and the jobless rate to remain at 6.1%. Barclays Capital economist Dean Maki described the slower gains as "consistent with a return to more moderate job growth" in the third quarter of 2014.
Marathon Data Systems, which provides software to pest-control and other service companies, is expanding in part thanks to a tax credit from the New Jersey state government. It moved into a new headquarters in Neptune this spring, added 33 new positions last year and plans to hire an additional 40 this year. Half already are on the job, Chief Executive Chris Sullens said.
"We've definitely been doubling down in terms of the investment in the business," he said.
The U.S. economy stumbled in the wintry first quarter as gross domestic product—the broadest measure of output across the economy—contracted at a 2.1% seasonally adjusted annual rate. But growth rebounded in the second quarter, with GDP growing at a 4% pace as companies continued to hire workers and the jobless rate declined at a rapid pace.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged improvement in the labor market. But its policy statement warned that "a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources," and that "a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate" given the state of the economy.
The Fed has kept short-term interest rates near zero since December 2008 to bolster the U.S. economy through a financial crisis, a deep recession and a lackluster recovery. The central bank now is winding down its bond-buying stimulus program and officials expect to begin raising rates sometime next year, though Chairwoman Janet Yellen in mid-July said that rate hikes "likely would occur sooner and be more rapid than currently envisioned" if the labor market "continues to improve more quickly than anticipated."
A swifter-than-expected rise in inflation could pressure the Fed to tighten credit. But a key gauge of prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index, slipped to a 1.6% annual gain in June and remained below the Fed's 2% target for a 26th consecutive month, the Commerce Department said Friday in a separate report.
There was little sign in July of acceleration in private-sector wages, despite a jump in employer compensation costs during the second quarter. Average hourly earnings rose 1 cent from June to $24.45 last month, the Labor Department said, up 2% from a year earlier and in line with the sluggish trend of recent years.
Hiring last month was broad-based. Payrolls rose by 47,000 in the professional and business services sector, 28,000 in the manufacturing sector and 22,000 in the construction field. Health-care employers added 7,000 jobs, and temp jobs rose by 8,500. Public payrolls were up by 11,000, reflecting hiring by local government agencies.
Retailers added nearly 27,000 jobs in July, despite somewhat-cautious consumer spending in recent months.
Cabela's Inc. has opened seven new outdoors-merchandise stores in the U.S. this year and plans to open four more by year's end, despite a decline in same-store sales last quarter. New-store sales are outperforming sales at older locations, which "continues to give us great confidence in our future store openings," CEO Tommy Millner told analysts on a conference call last week.
But much pain remains in a labor market still bearing scars from the 2007-09 recession.
Some 3.2 million people in July had been out of work for more than six months, down 1.1 million from a year earlier but still accounting for 32.9% of all unemployed Americans. The number of people working part-time jobs because they couldn't find full time work was 7.5 million in July, largely unchanged from June.
The jobless rate for African-Americans last month was 12.6%, nearly twice the 6.6% unemployment rate for whites. Adults with a college degree faced a 3.8% unemployment rate in July, compared with a 10.9% jobless rate for people without a high-school diploma.
A broad measure of unemployment known as the U-6, which includes people working part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work and people who are marginally attached to the labor force, was 12.2% in July. That's up slightly from 12.1% in June but down 1.7 percentage points from 13.9% in July 2013.
Delaying the start of their five-week August recess for a day, House Republicans were expected to meet Friday morning in hopes of finding modest changes that could help secure support for the bill from a majority of House Republicans. Lawmakers said they expected to tighten and clarify provisions to satisfy members concerned the bill contained problematic loopholes. Their goal is to pass a modified bill on Friday.
The measure would provide about one-fifth of the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama had asked for to deal with the crisis.
In the Senate, a bill from Democrats that included $2.7 billion to deal with the border stalled on a procedural vote amid largely GOP resistance.
Opposition from the most conservative lawmakers siphoned off support for the House bill, with some legislators worried about its cost and others concerned it didn't go far enough to stop the surge of more than 57,000 Central American children who have arrived since October or to prevent more crossings. The measure would beef up border security and speed deportations of children migrating from Central America by changing a 2008 anti-trafficking law.
GOP leaders had successfully won over some conservatives by deciding Wednesday night to add a vote aimed at stopping Mr. Obama from expanding his 2012 decision to halt deportations of some young illegal immigrants settled in the U.S, but discovered they were still short the necessary votes during floor debate on the bill.
The unyielding resistance from the anti-immigration Republicans triggered fierce pushback from others who have tired of GOP struggles to pass legislation amid the internal feuding.
"There are some people around here who go through all sorts of contortions figuring out how to get to no," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.).
When House GOP leaders signaled the chamber would skip a vote on the border bill, rank-and-file Republicans swarmed them on the floor, urging them to regroup. The result was a nearly two-hour, closed-door huddle, where lawmakers persuaded leaders not to abandon the bill.
House Republicans also criticized the involvement of GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, whose lobbying they saw as meddling from the other chamber.
"Some outspoken members, particularly at the other end of the Capitol, who have weighed in on the issue, have basically given concerns to some members on this side there would be political consequences," said Rep. Steve Womack (R., Ark.). "The political consequences are much more severe if this Congress goes back to an August recess not having addressed this subject."
The aborted vote dealt a blow to incoming House Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), the most recent whip, who is succeeding Mr. Cantor as majority leader. House GOP leaders assiduously had worked to court conservatives' vote on the bill, holding multiple listening sessions and adjusting the bill several times to respond to lawmakers' concerns.
"The leadership is doing their best, what do you want them to do? We run into the same roadblocks every time," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.).
Texas Republican Ted Cruz
Democrats said the GOP disarray over the border bill only added to the GOP's future political challenges of winning over Hispanic votes."With the Latino community, they're in a pretty deep hole, and this is just evidence that they continue to dig a little deeper," said Rep. Pete Gallego, a Texas Democrat whose district is on the border with Mexico.
The White House had blasted the scheduled DACA vote. The House approach "is about rounding up and deporting 11 million people, separating families and undermining DHS' ability to secure the border," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
Shortly after pulling the border bill from the floor Thursday, House GOP leaders had called on the administration to take steps on its own to secure the borders.
"There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries," House GOP leaders said in a joint statement.
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