The U.S. economy added 528,000 jobs in July, blowing past economists’ expectations of 258,000.
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The unemployment rate dipped 3.5% from last month’s 3.6%.
Overall employment levels, including payroll numbers and the unemployment rate, have returned to the pre-pandemic levels from February 2020.
Notable job gains were present across leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, construction and manufacturing. Employment in retail trade increased by 22,000 in July, but represented little net change since March. Retail employment in July had 208,000 more jobs than February 2020 levels.
At 3.5%, the unemployment rate dipped slightly from June, with 5.7 million people unemployed.
Average hourly earnings rose by 15 cents, or 0.5%, to $32.27 in July. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.2%. Meanwhile, inflation continues to soar at record high levels.
Consumer prices increased by 9.1% in June compared with a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report.
The strong hiring gains come amid a slowdown in the broader economy. Just last week, the U.S. economy retracted for the second quarter in a row, sparking recession concerns. Despite this milestone, the Federal Reserve and the Biden administration were quick to state that the U.S. is indeed not in a recession — at least not yet. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75% on Wednesday, repeating the same hike seen in June. In the wake of the downturn, companies across tech, retail, media have announced efforts to restructure their organizations and have let employees go to cut costs.
The total number of separations in June, which includes quits, layoffs and discharges, was 5.9 million at a rate of 3.9%, marking little change from the month before. Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.3 million at an unchanged rate of 0.9%.
The level of people quitting their jobs has also remained consistently high, month after month. In June, about 4.2 million people quit their jobs at a rate of 2.8%. This number represented little change from the 4.3 million people who left jobs in April.
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