By Gabriel T. Rubin

The U.S. economy added a robust 528,000 jobs in July, recouping the number of payrolls lost in the wake of the pandemic.

The unemployment rate also dropped to 3.5%, a half-century low also seen just before the pandemic in early 2020, the Labor Department said Friday. The acceleration follows a first half of the year during which payrolls grew faster than during any other post-World War II period when the economy began contracting.

The labor-force participation rate--or the share of adults working or seeking a job--ticked down to 62.1% in July from 62.2% a month earlier. Average hourly earnings grew 5.2% in July from a year earlier, a slight acceleration over the prior month.

Job gains were widespread last month. Employers in leisure and hospitality added jobs at a solid clip, as restaurants and bars continued to recover. Payrolls also grew in healthcare and professional and business services, which includes many white-collar jobs.

Industries vulnerable to the Federal Reserve's interest-rate increases also performed well in July. Construction firms, manufacturers and finance companies all added to payrolls.

Businesses have continued to hire despite two straight quarters of economic contraction, cooling consumer spending and rising risks of a recession. Overall employment also has nearly returned to prepandemic levels. But demand for workers in some sectors is cooling as the economy transitions away from the red-hot expansion that followed the elimination of Covid-19-related restrictions on business activity.

Write to Gabriel T. Rubin at gabriel.rubin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 05, 2022 09:13 ET (13:13 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.