July Jobs Growth Blows Past Expectations

​U.S. employers added 528,000 new jobs in July, surpassing economists’ forecasts, according to the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent, close to what is considered full employment and a half-century low.

Overall employment has finally returned to the prepandemic level last seen in February 2020. Gains were broad-based, with the biggest increases reported in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and health care.

Labor market benchmarks remain the strongest argument against a looming recession, although a separate government report released last week showed back-to-back quarterly declines in GDP, signifying that the economy meets the technical criteria for a recession. And headwinds from the highest inflation in four decades and rising interest rates may be starting to have an effect. Jobless claims have been steadily edging higher this year and some companies have announced hiring freezes or layoffs in recent weeks.

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