Economy added 164,000 jobs in July

The monthly jobs snapshot comes at the end of a wild week in which markets were rocked by a rate cut and a surprise announcement on tariffs.

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By Lucy Bayly

The economy added 164,000 jobs in July, a decline from June but well above the 100,000 that is required to keep pace with growth in the working population.

The nation's unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 3.7 percent, still the lowest in almost 50 years, according to the latest employment snapshot released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The June figure was revised down from 224,000 to 193,000 positions added, and May was revised down by 10,000 jobs to 62,000.

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Wall Street remained largely mute on the data, which comes at the end of a wild week in which markets were rocked by a rate cut and a surprise announcement on tariffs, but stocks began to tumble after the opening bell on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by as much as 478 points on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the widely expected 0.25 percent rate cut was just a “midcycle adjustment” and not the beginning of a cycle of financial easing. On Thursday afternoon, all three major indices slid after President Donald Trump's surprise announcement that the U.S. is imposing an additional 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of imported goods from China.

However, despite the strong July employment data, Wall Street is still hoping for another rate cut. Trade tensions continue to weigh on financial markets, with investors concerned that the latest tranche of tariffs, which affects mostly consumer products, will begin to negatively impact consumer spending, the juggernaut that fuels economic growth.

"The longest economic expansion in U.S. history has been showing its age of late," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. "Employers have reason for caution this year, including uncertainty tied to trade disputes and tariffs. Globally, economies are slowing around the world and more disruption appears ahead because of Brexit."

Markets are currently pricing in expectations of around 60 percent that the Federal Reserve will implement another rate cut at its meeting in mid-September, and 70 percent that it will cut rates later in the year, Reuters reported.

The economy has added an average of 172,000 jobs a month so far this year, compared to 223,000 in 2018.