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US employment returns to pre-pandemic level, adds 528,000 jobs; temp jobs up 9,800

August 05, 2022

Total US nonfarm employment rose by a whopping 528,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate edged downward to 3.5% — both returning to their pre-pandemic levels in July, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job growth was widespread. Meanwhile, 9,800 temp jobs were added; they were 244,100 above their pre-pandemic level.

“Job gains were broad based across sectors of the economy, implying that employer appetite to bolster their workforces is eclipsing any near-term concerns about inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain disruption,” said Timothy Landhuis, VP of research at Staffing Industry Analysts. “In addition, we note a milestone has been achieved in that the 152.5 million nonfarm jobs for July has for the first time surpassed the number of jobs the US had prior to the recession.”

Total employment in July was 152,536,000. In comparison, employment in February 2020, prior to the pandemic, was 152,504,000.

July’s gain of 528,000 jobs was larger than the average monthly gain of 388,000 over the previous four months.

Still, temp jobs totaled more than 3.1 million in July — 244,100 above their pre-pandemic level. The temp penetration rate in July was unchanged from June at 2.07%.

In addition, the US unemployment rate edged downward to 3.5% in July from 3.6% in June. The college-level unemployment rate fell to 2.0% in July from 2.1% in June.

However, July’s labor force participation rate — at 62.1% — was little changed and remained below its February 2020 level of 63.4%.

While job gains were widespread in July, the BLS noted that the leisure and hospitality segment added 96,000 jobs during the month. Still, leisure and hospitality employment remains 1.2 million below its February 2020 level.

The professional and business services segment added 89,000 jobs in July and employment is 986,000 higher than in February 2020. Meanwhile, healthcare employment rose by 70,000 jobs during July, although employment in the segment remains below its February 2020 level of 78,000.

The BLS also reported the manufacturing segment added 30,000 jobs in July; employment there is 41,000 above its February 2020 level. Transportation and warehousing added 21,000 jobs and employment is 745,000 above its February 2020 level.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose by 15 cents in July to $32.27.

A report on the employment situation by Staffing Industry Analysts is available online.

“Thus far, the buoyant labor market is still defying headwinds in the rest of the economy, where economic activity has slowed,” said Frank Steemers, senior economist at The Conference Board. “Usually, hiring decisions react to changes in business activity a few months later. Therefore, hiring is likely to decelerate over the coming months.”

Steemers also cautioned that the Fed will likely continue to rapidly increase interest rates.

“While economic output contracted for two consecutive quarters in the first half of 2022, a strong labor market means that currently we are likely not in recession,” he said. “However, economic activity is expected to further cool towards the end of the year and it is increasingly likely that the US economy will fall into recession before yearend or in early 2023.”

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