> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

Steady U.S. hiring growth continued into the second half of 2019, providing a solid foundation for the decade-long economic expansion at a time of global headwinds.

The Wall Street Journal reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 164,000 in July, the Labor Department said Friday. The jobless rate last month held steady at 3.7%, near a 50-year low. Through the first seven months of 2019, employers added 165,000 jobs a month, on average, below last year’s average monthly pace of 223,000. Job growth for May and June was revised down by 41,000.

“This is a solid jobs report,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS Inc. “Most of this slowing in jobs growth just looks like moderation that comes from a sugar high, but there’s probably some portion of it that has to do with business confidence.”

Average hourly wages for private-sector workers advanced 3.2% from a year earlier, up slightly from the previous month’s pace but down slightly from a February peak of 3.4%.

A healthy overall job market provides a meaningful counterweight to anemic global growth and trade tensions that prompted the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates Wednesday by a quarter-percentage point.

The current U.S. expansion became the longest on record in July. While there is no rule that says the expansion must end, Friday’s jobs report adds to the evidence it may be losing some steam.