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July jobs report: Good news for job-seekers without a degree

Workers build a truck as it goes through the assembly line at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. 
Bill Pugliano | Getty Images
Workers build a truck as it goes through the assembly line at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. 

After two months of higher than expected gains, job growth for the month of July slowed a bit, with 157,000 jobs added to the economy, according to the most recent report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's less than the 190,000 jobs economists had predicted for the month.

Unemployment fell from 4 percent to 3.9 percent, signaling that overall the market is still in good standing for job-seekers of all levels to find employment. But Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick warns that while unemployment is still at a low, slow wage growth continues to be a major concern. In July, average hourly wages rose just 7 cents, keeping year-over-year gain the same at 2.7 percent.

"Right now, of paramount importance is wage growth," he tells CNBC Make It. "It is sort of the 'What have you done for me lately?' scenario that employees are asking employers and the market."

Aside from wages, Hamrick says a major concern for economists have is the impact increased tariffs and rising interest rates could have on business owners and loan borrowers today. Below, he breaks down how the July's jobs report can impact you and your employer, and why now might be the best time for job-seekers without a degree to find a job.

Job-seekers

Hamrick points out that some of the industries that are doing the most hiring right now are those that focus more on the skills of an employee rather than their educational background. This means that job-seekers without a degree have an increased chance of finding employment in today's market.

"They are the so-called 'skilled jobs' that involve manufacturing or a construction trade where people need to be trained, but they don't need a degree in something like economics," he says.

In July, 37,000 manufacturing jobs were added to the economy and 19,000 construction jobs were added.

Data shows that overall job-seekers 25 years and older without a college degree or a high school diploma have seen a decrease in unemployment over the past few years. In June, unemployment was 5.5 percent for workers without a high school diploma, a drastic decrease from 8.5 percent in September 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But regardless of whether you're a professional with a college degree or without, Hamrick says you still need to know how to stand out in today's market, and emphasizes the need to show off your skills.

"Soft skills are often overlooked in the sense of how one prepares for employment," he says. "But you should show that you have the ability to have a constructive conversation with others if its a customer-facing job. And you should show that you're able to show up to work on time and do all the things that many people consider to be along the lines of someone who is a productive adult."

Business owners

Recently, President Trump told top trade officials to consider bumping proposed tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent, which Hamrick says will impact the bottom line of a lot of businesses.

"There is no doubt that the tariffs issue is creating stress and uncertainty for businesses, and its impossible for business owners to escape that," he explained.

Economist Jim O'Neill told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange" in June that even leaders and employees at some of today's top companies, like Apple, could be impacted by these tariffs.

"I often say to people that America's most iconic modern company, Apple, has for three years sold more iPhones to Greater China than it has to the U.S.," said O'Neill. "So ultimately, if the U.S. genuinely takes this kind of belligerent stance, it's going to be the U.S.' best-growing companies that will suffer."

Borrowers

Interest rates are currently expected to increase twice before the end of the year, which Hamrick says means that borrowers should take some necessary steps now to prepare their wallets.

"Interest rates have been rising for a few years now and it is expected to keep rising," he says. "So for borrowers it has never been more pressing to pay off or down debt, and at the top of the list is credit cards."

He says that home equity loans, car loans and personal loans should also be paid down as much as possible. He also advises homeowners with mortgage loans to reevaluate their loan type to ensure that they won't be affected by rate changes.

"If there is someone who still has an adjustable rate mortgage and think they will be in their home for the next several years they should look to refinance into a fixed rate mortgage, which is still around 4.8 percent," he says.

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