A hiring sign is posted at a Target store in San Rafael, California, on Friday. AFP
Even the White House had predicted job gains would slow last month, which Biden had said was part of the natural downshift after the rapid rebound of the world's largest economy from the pandemic downturn.
Instead, US job growth jumped in July, as the economy added a surprising 528,000 positions, more than double what economists were expecting, according to official data released on Friday. That took the jobless rate back to the pre-pandemic level of February 2020.
"Today, the unemployment rate matches the lowest it's been in more than 50 years: 3.5 per cent," Biden said in a statement.
"More people are working than at any point in American history... there's more work to do, but today's jobs report shows we are making significant progress for working families."
On top of the hiring surge last month, the Labor Department report said the outsized job gain in June was revised higher, as was May, adding a total 28,000 positions to the initial data.
Other recent US economic data has stoked recession fears, but White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called Friday's employment report "one of the many economic indicators (that) shows us that we are not in a recession, that we are in a transition."
Meanwhile, the closely watched report showed wages jumped in July — with average hourly earnings up 15 cents from June — stoking concerns about a possible wage-price spiral. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.2 per cent.
That's good for families struggling to make ends meet as they face soaring prices for groceries and gas, but could drive firms to raise prices further.
With inflation topping nine percent, the highest in more than 40 years, the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates aggressively to cool the economy, and economists now say a third consecutive three-quarter-point hike is likely in September.
Biden, in remarks at the White House, acknowledged "how hard it is to feel good about job creation when you already have a job and you're dealing with rising prices, food, gas and so much more."
The US president called for passage of his health and climate investment bill that has picked up momentum on Capitol Hill in recent days, calling it "a game changer for working families and our economy."Agence France-Presse
In a fresh study, the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that a full 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
“Additionally, there is a clear shift in the skill sets being sought by hiring managers, with an uptick in demand for ‘soft’ skills such as agility, creativity and communication alongside core technical competencies in order for personnel to have the optimal attributes needed to navigate what remains a very challenging business climate.”
The International Labour Organisation, in a new look at the impact of the pandemic on jobs, says that work hours equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs have been lost due to the COVID-19 crisis.
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