The labor market added a smaller-than-expected 187,000 jobs in July, but one sector delivered roughly half of that total.
The health care and social assistance category grew by 87,100 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department. That total jumped to 100,000 when including education jobs, as some economists do.
Health care and social assistance added more than 70,000 jobs in each of the prior two months as well. Ambulatory care services alone added 35,000 jobs in July.
“Healthcare alone has accounted for 35% of the job gains in the past 3 months, with the industry’s employment increasing at a 4.4% annualised pace. That’s likely to slow as industry employment is now well ahead of prepandemic levels,” Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar, said in a note.
Two other bright spots were construction and financial activities, which added 19,000 jobs each.
Several categories shed jobs, however, led to the downside by a 12,000 net loss for information.
Professional and business services also lost about 8,000 jobs. That was driven by a loss of more than 22,000 jobs for temporary help services, which could be an early warning sign that the labor market is weakening.
“We also see signs that firms are looking to cut labour usage by the fact that temporary help employment is falling (down 5% Y/Y and falling sharply in the last several months). … Temporary help employment was a leading indicator of overall employment in the 2001 and 2008 recessions,” Caldwell said.