July Jobs Report: Live Updates

U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday, a surprisingly strong gain that shows the labor market is weathering the economic impact of rising interest rates, at least until here.

The impressive performance – which brings total employment back to its February 2020 level, just before the pandemic shutdowns – provides further evidence that the United States has not entered a recession.

The grim readings on consumer sentiment in recent months, along with fears that a recession is looming or has even begun, were “completely at odds with the reality of what the underlying data was telling us,” Justin said. Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan. “I’ve never seen such a big disjunction between the data and the general mood as I’ve seen it.”

But with the Federal Reserve pursuing an aggressive policy of raising interest rates to rein in inflation, most forecasters expect labor market momentum to slow markedly later in the year as businesses reducing the wage bill to meet the drop in demand.

“Things are going well at this stage,” said James Knightley, ING Bank’s chief international economist. “Let’s say December or early next year, that’s when we might see much lower numbers.”

The jobless rate was 3.5%, down from 3.6% in June, matching its lowest level in 50 years on the eve of the pandemic.

Last week, the government announced that the country’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, had contracted for the second straight quarter after adjusting for inflation. The data showed a sharp drop in housing construction, a slowdown in business investment and a slow increase in consumer spending.

These trends are sure to affect the labor market as a whole, even if not uniformly or immediately.

Amy Glaser, senior vice president of global recruitment agency Adecco, said her company was still struggling to fill hourly jobs, particularly in retail and logistics. Employers may not have made these positions attractive enough and increasingly can live without them.

“By the time someone applies and a recruiter reaches out, they have about 24 hours to place them in a role or they’ll be gone,” Ms Glaser said. “The candidates are in charge.

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