The U.S. labor market stunned analysts by sprouting 528,000 new jobs in July, more than twice analysts’ estimates.
The economy has now restored all of the roughly 22 million jobs lost during the COVID War, leading several economists to pronounce the jobs recovery complete.
At one point during this year’s first quarter, payrolls grew faster than at any time since the end of World War Two.
However, there are now 623,000 fewer workers in the labor force, due in large measure to early retirements during the COVID era.
The smaller pool of available workers is keeping upward pressure on wages, The Wall Street Journal noted.
Paychecks also grew more than economists had predicted, rising 0.5 percent in July and 5.2 percent year over year, but still barely half of inflation’s 9.1-percent rate last month.
July’s job gains were widespread.
Leisure and hospitality businesses—which include hotels, bars, and restaurants—brought on 96,000 new employees last month. The sector has gained jobs every month since January 2021.
Workers also found new positions in business and professional services, which added 89,000 spots.
The healthcare industry hired 70,000 more people.
Warehousing and transport added 21,000 workers; there are now 36 percent more warehouse workers than before COVID.
The semiconductor industry grew its payroll by 0.9 percent.
Construction businesses, financial firms, and manufacturing all took on more workers, despite these sectors being vulnerable to rising interest rates. However, some rate-sensitive sectors, such as tech and real estate, have seen some layoffs, according to the WSJ.
At 3.5 percent, July’s unemployment rate matched the 50-year low reached just before the COVID virus arrived in 2020.
The number of open jobs has fallen by 600,000 since May, just four months ago, but still exceeds the number of workers available to fill them, the U.S. labor department said.
The proportion of U.S. adults working or actively looking for work edged down to 62.1 percent in July from 62.2 in June.
The number of adults seeking work will rise, some economists predict, as inflation forces more people, especially retirees, back into the labor force.
More seniors are “unretiring” for that reason, according to a survey by ZipRecruiter, an online employment agency.
In June, the firm found 21.5 percent of job-seekers were returning to work after having retired. Of those, 35.8 percent said inflation had driven them back to work and 26.2 percent said their retirement savings were running out.
Women Get Most Jobs
Women claimed 327,000 of the 528,000 new jobs created last month, the U.S. labor department reported, while the male labor force shrank for the fourth consecutive month.
Female unemployment leaped up to 12 million during the COVID era.
Jobs in restaurants, hotels, retail, and other customer-interaction positions are traditionally staffed disproportionately by women; those were the jobs most widely erased by COVID lockdowns.
Also, surveys showed that many women stayed home to care for family members and supervise children schooling at home.
Now 55 percent of working-age women are employed, almost reaching the 55.9 percent pre-COVID, the department said. More than 12 million Latina women are on the job, a record number, the department noted.
The male employment rate is down by 1.6 percentage points compared to pre-COVID times over the same period, at 65.2 percent.
Latino men lost 300,000 jobs last month. Joblessness among Black Americans rose to 6 percent, almost double the White unemployment rate.
TRENDPOST: What is not being heavily reported is that as job numbers are going up, they are not keeping up with the record breaking Great Resignation. Since the start of the year, more than 4 million people have left their jobs each month.
Making a bad economic situation worse, according to a study by McKinsey, nearly 40 percent of workers are considering quitting their current jobs in the next 3-to-6 months.
As quoted by CNBC, “This isn’t just a passing trend, or a pandemic-related change to the labor market,” Bonnie Dowling, one of the authors of the report, says of the elevated quit rates. “There’s been a fundamental shift in workers’ mentality, and their willingness to prioritize other things in their life beyond whatever job they hold. … We’re never going back to how things were in 2019.”