In an unexpected twist given all the other labor news we’ve seen over the course of this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report shows that 528,000 non-farm jobs were created in July, more than doubling economist expectations.
— BLS-Labor Statistics (@BLS_gov) August 5, 2022
The unemployment rate also ticked down to 3.5 percent, down from last month’s 3.6 percent. Wages are also now up 5.2 percent from a year ago.
Despite the rate of inflation still being up more than 9 percent from a year ago and far outpacing wages, and despite other signs of economic weakness, it’s clear that the job market is going strong.
More broadly, though, the report showed that the labor market remains strong despite other signs of economic weakness.
“There’s no way to take the other side of this. There’s not a lot of, ‘Yeah, but,’ other than it’s not positive from a market or Fed perspective,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. “For the economy, this is good news.”
Markets initially reacted negatively to the report, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down more than 200 points as traders anticipated a strong counter move from a Federal Reserve looking to cool the economy and in particular a heated labor market.
The most important news to come out of today’s report is that private sector jobs have now eclipsed February 2022 levels, just before the pandemic forced economic closures throughout the country.
The positive news comes in the wake of last week’s news that the second quarter GDP shrank, signaling a recession was coming. The Biden administration has maintained that a strong labor market, among other measures, meant we were not in a recession and could even avoid one. With today’s jobs report, most investors are now pricing in another 0.75 percentage point hike from the Federal Reserve in September.