Originally created 08/07/99

Interest rates may rise due to strong employment



Many economists expect Greenspan to carry through on that promise when Fed policy-makers next meet on Aug. 24 with another quarter-point increase in the federal funds rate, a benchmark rate that governs short-term borrowing costs for millions of consumers and businesses.

The Fed on June 30 increased the funds rate to 5 percent, the first hike in two years.

Despite the strength of labor markets in July, the unemployment rate for blacks rose to 8.8 percent, up from a record low of 7.3 percent in June. The unemployment rate for Hispanics, however, fell to 6.2 percent, down from 6.8 percent in June. And, the rate for teen-agers also dropped to 12.7 percent, down from 13.5 percent in June.

Most of strength in July came from gains in service industries led by the jump of 61,000 jobs at restaurants and bars, almost double the gain in June. Employment was also up at car dealerships, hardware and garden supply stores.

Construction added 22,000 jobs in July, but mining lost 3,000 jobs as the oil and gas industry continued to suffer layoffs. This industry has lost one-fifth of its jobs, a total of 71,000 layoffs, since February of last year.