The U.S. economy added 528,000 jobs in July, and the national unemployment rate edged downward to 3.5%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.
Job growth was widespread last month, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and healthcare, the BLS said in its employment summary for July. Total private-sector employment is now 629,000 higher than before the pandemic began, although several sectors have yet to fully recover.
“This remarkable and broad-based job growth means that for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, total employment has not only surpassed the level of February 2020 but reached an all-time historic high, while the unemployment rate has matched its pre-pandemic, 53-year low,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement on Friday.
The labor market has recouped all 22 million jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BLS said. July’s increase of 528,000 jobs was unexpected and outpaced the average monthly jobs gain (+344,000) that has occurred over the prior four months.
In July, leisure and hospitality added 96,000 jobs, as growth continued in food services and drinking places (+74,000). However, overall employment in leisure and hospitality remains 7.1% lower than February 2020 levels.
Employment in professional and business services increased by 89,000 jobs in July with widespread gains throughout the industry, including management of companies and enterprises (+13,000), architectural and engineering services (+13,000), management and technical consulting services (+12,000), and scientific research and development services (+10,000). Employment in professional and business services is 986,000 higher compared to February 2020 before the pandemic began.
Employment in healthcare rose by 70,000 jobs in July. Job gains occurred in ambulatory healthcare services (+47,000), hospitals (+13,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000). Employment in healthcare overall is 0.5% below February 2020 levels.
Employment in construction increased by 32,000 in July, as specialty trade contractors added 22,000 jobs. Construction employment is 82,000 jobs higher than in February 2020.
Manufacturing employment increased by 30,000 in July. Employment in durable goods industries rose by 21,000, with job gains in semiconductors and electronic components (+4,000) and miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing (+4,000). Manufacturing employment is 41,000 jobs above February 2020 levels.
Employment in government rose by 57,000 in July but remains 2.6% below its February 2020 level of 597,000.
The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who either have a job or are looking for one, edged down slightly from 62.2% in June to 62.1% in July. Average hourly earnings increased 0.5% last month after rising 0.4% in June. Wages were 5.2% higher last month compared to July 2021.
The number of unemployed individuals stood at 5.7 million in July, causing the national unemployment rate to tick downward by 0.1 percentage point from June’s level of 3.6%.