U.S. employers added more than 940,000 jobs in July, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday, beating analyst expectations and providing the latest sign the job market may be recovering from steep losses sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 943,000 jobs added last month topped the 850,000 from the previous month, despite a shortage of available workers.
July’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% from 5.9% the month before.
“While it is doubtless we will have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the delta surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working, the Biden plan is producing results and the Biden plan is moving the country forward,” said President Joe Biden at the White House Friday.
The president said his administration is the first in U.S. history to oversee an economy that added jobs “every single month in our first six months in office” and noted that “economic growth is the fastest in 40 years.”
The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine encouraged restaurants and other businesses to reopen after being forced to close for months after the pandemic began. But Biden warned there was more to be done not just on the economy, but also on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“Because of our success with the vaccination effort, this new delta variant wave of COVID-19 will be very different to deal with than the one that was underway when I took office,” Biden warned. “Yes, cases are going to go up before they come back down. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
The prospects of a strong monthly jobs report were bolstered Thursday when the Labor Department reported that 385,000 jobless workers filed for compensation, down 14,000 from the revised figure of the week before.
The U.S. said a week ago that the economy expanded at a 6.5% annual rate of growth from April through June, a slightly faster pace than in the first three months of the year.
The size of the U.S. economy – nearly $23 trillion – now exceeds its pre-pandemic level as it recovers faster than many economists had predicted during the worst of the business closings more than a year ago.
But the surging delta variant of the coronavirus is threatening to impair business activity in some regions of the U.S. and, as a result, analysts say the economy could cool somewhat in coming months.
The second quarter growth was fueled by widespread business reopenings, vaccinations for millions of people and trillions of dollars of government pandemic aid that was sent to all but the wealthiest American families. Some economists and many Republican lawmakers have warned of inflation risks sparked by record-high government stimulus.
“Inflation is skyrocketing & Americans are paying higher prices after Dems’ wild spending spree earlier this year,” Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota tweeted earlier this week.
The number of weekly unemployment benefit claims has tracked unevenly in recent weeks, but overall has fallen by more than 40% since early April, while remaining well above the pre-pandemic levels.
About 9.5 million people remain unemployed in the U.S. and are looking for work. There also are 9.2 million job openings, the government says, although the skill sets of the jobless do not necessarily match the needs of employers.
Some employers are offering cash bonuses to new hires.
State governors and municipal officials across the U.S. have been ending coronavirus restrictions, in many cases allowing businesses for the first time in a year to completely reopen to customers. That could lead to more hiring of workers.
But the number of new coronavirus infections recorded each day has increased by tens of thousands in recent weeks and is still growing, especially in parts of the U.S. where millions of people have, for one reason or another, resisted getting vaccination shots.
The number of new vaccinations had been falling in the U.S. but now is increasing again as more people see others in their communities hospitalized from the virus and their lives endangered.
More than 60% of U.S. adults have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Source: Voice of America