The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent last month as the U.S. economy added 528,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday.
Despite persistent inflation, the Labor Department said U.S. job growth was “widespread” in July, with “leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care” all adding jobs.
The department also said that the number of employed non-farm workers and the US unemployment rate are now at the same level as in February 2020, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of “long-term unemployed” – meaning people without a job for more than six months – also fell to pre-pandemic levels with a fall of 269,000 last month.
Such impressive job growth will further intensify the debate over whether the US is slipping into a recession amid growing consensus that the economy is running out of steam after the post-pandemic lockdown boom. Many economists believe a strong labor market prevents that from happening.
The labor force participation rate, which is all people either employed or actively looking for work, remained at 62.1 percent, which is below the 63.4 percent it was in February 2020. This may indicate a real change in employment patterns caused by the pandemic with people either take other opportunities, return to education, care for family members or retire early.
The jobs report showed that the unemployment rate for adult women and whites declined, but the unemployment rate for adult men, teenagers, blacks, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans remained relatively unchanged.
Wages have also increased in the last month, by 0.5 per cent in the last month and by 5.2 per cent in the last year.
The positive monthly jobs report beat predictions by many analysts who had suggested that last month’s job gains could be fewer than in recent months.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had said the Biden administration was expecting a report on the order of 150,000 jobs added last month — a far smaller number than was reported.
Speaking at a law signing event on Friday, President Joe Biden boasted that his administration has seen nearly 10 million jobs created since he was sworn in on January 20, 2021.
“It’s the fastest job growth in history,” he said.
“Since I took office, we have created 642,000 American manufacturing jobs in America. We have seen the largest and fastest job recovery in American manufacturing history since the 1950s. And some people may have given up on American manufacturing, but the American people didn’t, and I never did, he added.
In a statement, President Biden also noted that last month’s jobs data showed the U.S. unemployment rate at a level lower than at any time in the past half century.
“More people are working than at any time in American history. There are millions of families with the dignity and peace of mind that a paycheck brings,” Biden said, crediting his economic agenda — “building the economy from the bottom up” — with the jobs promise.
“I ran for president to rebuild the middle class — there’s more work to do, but today’s jobs report shows we’re making significant progress for working families,” he added.
The administration and Democratic will seize on such positive news as Americans have grown increasingly anxious about rising prices and the risk of recession.
All of these questions will be at the forefront of voters’ minds in November’s midterms.