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U.S. Economy Adds Nearly 1.8M Jobs as Unemployment Rate Falls to 10.2 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. economy added nearly 1.8 million jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell 90 basis points to 10.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday. The uptick on nonfarm payroll employment beat expectations as economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal anticipated just under 1.5 million jobs to be added.

Though the latest job tally surpassed expectations, Ball State University economist Michael Hicks cautions against drawing sweeping conclusions. The employment-to-population ratio is more than 5 percent below the level from July 2019 and more than 3.5 million workers have exited the labor force in the past few months. Hicks says if those 3.5 million workers were included in the jobs report, the unemployment rate would be 250 basis points higher.

“Permanent job losses continue to increase, but temporary losses appear to be nearly fully recovered,” he said. “This means roughly 10 percent of those working in January remain unemployed, with no evidence of improving prospects for re-employment.”

Employment surged in the leisure and hospitality sector, having added 592,000 jobs, making up for one-third of the overall monthly growth. The sector lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April, though has begun to reclaim jobs since May (1.2 million) and June (2.1 million).

Government employment rose by 301,000 in July but is still 1.1 million below its February level.

The retail sector added 258,000 jobs, though is still 913,000 under its February level. In July, healthcare added 126,000 jobs. Employment in healthcare is down by 797,000 since February.

In July, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents to $29.39 and the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised up by 26,000 to just over 2.7 million. June was revised downward by 9,000 to just under 4.8 million jobs added.

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