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July Jobs Report Reflects Strong Numbers, Defying Expectations


The Labor Department's jobs report is out for the month of July. And once again, it shows stronger-than-expected job gains. Employers added 255,000 jobs to payrolls in spite of all the global economic anxiety of this moment. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The report seems to dispel concerns from a couple of months ago that the U.S. economy might be taking a big hit from slowdowns overseas. But the big dip in hiring in May was offset by strong rebounds in June and July, says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for bankrate.com

MARK HAMRICK: The U.S. economy seems to be hanging tough.

NOGUCHI: By nearly every measure, the report indicated some improvement, not just in the quantity of jobs, but in the quality of them.

HAMRICK: For the most part, these are white-collar jobs, business and professional services, health care, leisure, hospitality. And government actually showed up with 38,000 jobs in the month of July.

NOGUCHI: Hamrick says one feature of this job market recovery is that it has been consistent and steady for years. And he says it's a good sign when job gains appear to be sustainable. As the labor market tightens, employers are having to pay more to hire or retain talent. In July, wages grew more than expected, at three-tenths of a percent.

HAMRICK: The job market seems to be one of the areas of the economy that's doing better than others. We'd love to see the U.S. manufacturing sector do better. We'd love for the global economy to do better and help all of the U.S. businesses that could be doing better. But for now, the U.S. economy is hanging in there. And it will take it.

NOGUCHI: The stronger-than-expected jobs report could prompt the Federal Reserve to re-evaluate when to raise its benchmark interest rates. The central bank policy members meet next month. And this report could affect their decisions. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.

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