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Unemployment Is Still Over 6%, So Fed Will Hold Off for Longer on Rate Hike

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Think of it like a kid's nursery rhyme: First come jobs, then come wages, then comes Janet with a...

Big Fat Ol' Interest Rate Hike? Not quite.

Friday's jobs report look pretty good, but not so good that the central bank has to raise interest rates any time soon. Employers added 209,000 new jobs in July, missing estimates of about 230,000, but an increase of 15,000 in estimated hiring for May and June wiped out nearly all of the miss. The unemployment rate rose a notch to 6.2%. The worst news was the nearly flat performance by wages, with average hourly earnings rising by only a penny to $24.45.

The report makes clear there is still enough slack in the job market to keep the Federal Reserve, led by Chair Janet Yellen, from accelerating its interest rate hikes. Yellen has made it plain she doesn't want to do that. And there is little enough inflation out there that she doesn't really have to.

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It's true that the economy is picking up in earnest now.

July marks the sixth straight month of job gains of more than 200,000, the first time that has happened since 1997. Layoffs are at rock-bottom levels, with initial jobless claims at eight-year lows. When a company such as Microsoft (MSFT) does a big layoff, it's much bigger news than a few years ago. 

The striking thing in recent jobs reports has been how broad-based job gains suddenly are. The June and July ADP reports showed gains in every industry group, and emerging data show a pickup in middle-wage industries such as construction, manufacturing and state and local government that have been slower to recover from the 2008 financial panic and its aftermath.

In today's report from the Labor Department, construction added 22,000 jobs in July, manufacturers hired 28,000 people and local governments added 12,000. But acceleration there was offset by slower growth in financial industries and professional services. Air transportation businesses, including airlines such as United Continental (UAL) and American (AAL), actually shed about 3,000 jobs. Hospital companies such as HCA (HCA) trimmed 7,100 workers as more care moved to outpatient settings.

The report made no dent in the advanced metrics Yellen has been touting, talking about the job market as Nate Silver talks polls or baseball. Long-term unemployment is still above 3 million and rose a bit this month. The ranks of involuntarily part-time workers are still 7.5 million, about 3 million more than normal.

For workers, the report's wage news is the biggest disappointment. But on Wall Street, that's all good. It means that the monetary stimulus that traders are wary of giving up is just a little bit more likely now to stick around for a while.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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