IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Job growth soars in July, unemployment rate improves

For those who've been waiting for a blockbuster jobs report, today's new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered.
Booming U.S. Recovery Is Leaving Some Communities Completely Behind
A "We're Hiring" sign in the window of a tea bar in San Gabriel, Calif., on March 23, 2021.Jessica Pons / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Expectations headed into this morning showed projections of about 800,000 new jobs added in the United States in July. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the economy far exceeded expectations.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 943,000 for the month while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, according to the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.... Average hourly earnings also increased more than expected, rising 0.4% for the month.

The revisions from the last couple of months were also encouraging: totals from May and June were both revised up, and the combined changes reflected additional 119,000 previously unreported new jobs -- on top of the preliminary total from July.

Also, with the unemployment rate falling from 5.9% to 5.4%, the jobless rate is now at its lowest point since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

As regular readers may recall, previous reports on April's and May's job totals fell short of expectations, raising widespread questions about the strength of the economic recovery. With those figures in mind, this morning's report offers real relief: job growth in July was the strongest in a year.

With 2.5 million jobs having been created over the last three months, it looks like the nation's job market is finally hitting its stride.

For Republicans, the data does little to help their talking points. A few months ago, for example, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) insisted that President Biden's economic policies "have stalled our recovery," adding, "Bidenomics is bad for America." Around the same time, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) argued that the White House's economy agenda was sending the economy into a "tailspin."

I'll look forward to their revised statements later today.

Having said that, it's worth adding a note of caution: the data for today's BLS report came largely from the beginning of July, not the end, and the pandemic conditions have intensified in many parts of the United States in recent weeks. Whether the economy can maintain its momentum under such conditions is far from clear.

Ordinarily, I run a chart at the bottom of posts about the monthly jobs reports, but the job losses at the start of the pandemic were so severe, it's rendered the image largely meaningless. I'm retooling it in the hopes of making it useful again.