(CNN Business) –– The United States economy has just recovered all the jobs that were lost during the pandemic, after adding 528,000 jobs in July, according to the report published this Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, for its acronym in English) .
The huge monthly gain was more than double the 250,000 jobs economists had forecast, according to Refinitiv.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.5% after hovering at 3.6% for the past four months. In addition, this July indicator reaches the minimum of half a century seen that was last recorded in February 2020.
The July results mark the 19th consecutive month of job growth in the US It is also the highest number since the economy added 714,000 jobs in February. And July job totals exceed the average monthly gain of 388,000 for the past four months, BLS data shows.
Job gains were widespread across all sectors, although leisure and hospitality had some of the biggest gains. However, jobs in that key service sector are still below their pre-pandemic level by more than 1 million jobs, according to the BLS.
The labor force participation rate fell to 62.1% from 62.2% in June. Median hourly earnings increased 0.5% from the prior month and were up 5.2% from a year ago.
The expectation of economists about jobs in the United States
Economists had expected the labor market to show some slowdown, as it not only moved closer to recovering the more than 20 million jobs lost in the pandemic, but also reflected a broader slowdown in economic activity.
Before Friday’s report, which also included upward revisions for a total of 28,000 jobs over the past two months, the country was about 524,000 jobs short of reaching pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
In one giant blow, that gap was erased.
“Despite two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction in the first half of the year, these strong labor market numbers make a strong case against recession talk,” Mark Hamrick, chief economic analyst at Bankrate, said in a statement. .
This report, when analyzed with the latest data showing job openings still far outnumber job seekers, could put pressure on the Federal Reserve to continue its series of aggressive rate hikes, he added.
“What [el presidente de la Fed] Jerome Powell and his colleagues continue to assess that the labor market is up, that remains on the side of the ledger forcing them to continue raising interest rates,” he said.