Hiring surged in July, with U.S. employers creating 528,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. That far exceeded economist expectations for gains of 250,000 new jobs during the period. It was also a jump from the previous month, when businesses added 372,000 jobs despite the highest inflation in 40 years. 

The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5% from 3.6% in June, marking the lowest since February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. Before the latest payrolls report, the economy was adding roughly 450,000 jobs per month.

The employment numbers underscore the resilience of the economy following two straight quarters of declining GDP, which is considered a hallmark of a recession. Despite this shrinking economic growth, hiring has remained robust as businesses continue to add new jobs and hold onto their current workers amid strong consumer demand. 


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“With all the concerns around a recession, one of the key data points that says the economy is still growing has been the jobs numbers,” noted Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, in a research note before the report was released. 

Some analysts also point out that job growth alone is an unreliable indicator of a downturn, noting that hiring often remains strong in the early stages of a recession. 

For example, in the three months immediately preceding the housing crash-induced recession that started in December 2007, the Labor Department’s monthly payrolls survey showed the economy gaining nearly 300,000 jobs per month, according to Societe Generale Cross Asset Research.