Job Gains Soar in July Amid Recession Fears

Job growth accelerated in July amid higher inflation and growing economic pressures. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 528,000, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% in July.

Construction industry employment (both residential and non-residential) totaled 7.7 million and has exceeded its February 2020 level. In July, residential construction gained 14,100 jobs, and non-residential construction added 18,300 jobs. Residential construction employment currently exceeds its level in February 2020, while 83% of non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April have now been recovered.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 528,000 in July, following a gain of 398,000 in June, as reported in the Employment Situation Summary.  It marks the largest gain since February 2022. The estimates for the previous two months were revised up. The May estimate was revised up by 2,000 from +384,000 to +386,000, while the June increase was revised up by 26,000. With these revisions, employment in May and June together was revised up by 28,000 from the previously reported ones.

In the first seven months of 2022, more than 3.3 million jobs were created, and monthly employment growth averaged 471,000 per month. As of July 2022, total nonfarm employment is back to pre-pandemic level in February 2020, meaning U.S. labor market is fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% in July from 3.6% in June, returning to the level in February 2020. The labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 62.1% in July.

Additionally, according to the Household Survey supplemental data, which come from questions added to the Current Population Survey (CPS) since May 2020, 7.1% of employed persons teleworked or worked at home in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic in July, unchanged from the previous month. In May 2020, 35.4% of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Job growth in July was broad-based across sectors, led by gains in leisure and hospitality (+96,000), professional and business services (+89,000), and health care (+70,000).

Employment in the overall construction sector increased by 32,000 in July, following a 16,000 gain in June. Residential construction gained 14,100 jobs, while non-residential construction employment gained 18,300 jobs in July.

Residential construction employment now stands at 3.2 million in July, broken down as 902,000 builders and 2.3 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 11,900 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 120,800 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1,186,500 positions.

In July, the unemployment rate for construction workers rose by 0.4 percentage points to 3.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower, after reaching 14.2% in April 2020, due to the housing demand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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