A monthly gauge of U.S. employment held steady in the latest week, underscoring little movement in overall hiring yet registering a "significant decline" in federal government jobs, Gallup reported on Wednesday.
Gallup's Job Creation Index edged down to 21 in July, from 22 in the previous month, the firm said in latest survey. The index for net federal hiring had fallen to -17, much lower than the comparable year-ago reading. According to Gallup, federal workers "were more likely to report that their employer is letting people go rather than hiring in July."
The data is largely consistent with last month's non-farm payrolls report, which disappointed most economists by showing about 162,000 jobs were created. Most of the hiring was concentrated in part-time or contract employment, with the figures re-igniting a fierce debate on Wall Street about whether and when the Federal Reserve will scale back on its monetary stimulus.
"The U.S. jobs market looks fairly flat on the surface," Gallup said. "However, this masks significant changes in hiring within the federal government, as well as in certain regions of the country. Federal workers report more layoffs and less hiring in July than they did in June, possibly reflecting federal sequestration," the firm added.
According to the survey, hiring conditions are most favorable in the Western portion of the country, rivaling the Midwest for the most net hiring. Meanwhile, job growth on the East Coast has slowed, the report added.