By Dan Lindley

It should come as no surprise to anyone in the U.S. that Monster’s Employment Index dipped in July. After all, numbers from the U.S. government have shown the U.S. unemployment rate rising to 5.7 percent in July, the highest level in four years. That marks the seventh month in a row of job losses (and things may actually be worse: Some of the sharper observers of our nation’s politics and economy suspect that the Feds may be cooking the books on unemployment and inflation rates to make things look a bit rosier than they really are).

No surprise about Monster’s numbers for the U.S., then. But it may be a bit more unsettling that the online employment site’s Employment Index Europe remained virtually flat for the same month, marking a deceleration in the E.U.’s once-flourishing job market. Until now, Europe had remained one bright economic beacon in the Western world.

But first, the numbers for Monster’s Index for the U.S. in July. The index fell six points, from 163 the previous month, as most industries, occupations, regions and local markets reported continued contraction in the availability of jobs posted online. Compared to July 2007, the index fell by 26 points.

Among U.S. occupations, farming, fishing and forestry registered the strongest monthly increase in online job availability in July. Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, and office and administrative support, were the two occupational categories that registered the sharpest declines. During July, online job availability dipped in all nine U.S. Census Bureau regions and all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia. Online recruitment activity eased in 27 of the 28 U.S. metro areas in July. Only Miami registered an increase.

The Monster Employment Index Europe meanwhile inched up a point in July, to 167 from 166 the previous month. But it was up a strong 19 points, or 10 percent, compared to the same month a year ago. Overall, according to Monster, the figures suggest a deceleration in Europe’s job growth.

Strong growth in Germany made up for weakness in the rest of Europe, including the weakest for the month, Sweden. Among job types, health care and social work rose sharply, and goods-producing jobs were strong. A big decline was reported in the environment, architecture and urbanism sector.