The U.S. economy added 209,000 non-agricultural jobs in July, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday.
Unemployment remained essentially unchanged last month at 4.3 percent, although that did match the 16-year low the nation’s jobless rate reached in May, according to the department’s monthly jobs report.
Average hourly earnings in non-farm jobs rose nine cents, to $26.36.
Approximately seven million people were unemployed in July, about the same number that were out of work in June.
Food service added 53,000 jobs, while professional and business services added 49,000 workers. Health care employment increased by 39,000, with most of those gains happening in ambulatory services and at hospitals.
Employment in other major job sectors, including construction, manufacturing, trade, retail, transportation and logistics showed little change from June.
Job growth has averaged 184,000 per month so far this year, according to the report.
The best thing about this month’s report is that it exceeded expectations, said Jay Prag, professor of economics and finance at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.
“It’s always good when a report is better than expected, because it means there’s some momentum in the economy that the experts haven’t seen yet,” Prag said. “I think [President Trump] deserves some credit for that, because he’s put confidence into the business community. They’re being set free, and they know that every little thing isn’t going to be regulated.”
A recession seems less likely to happen now than it did several months ago, Prag said.
“I was worried about that happening maybe a year from now, but I don’t feel that way anymore,” he said. “The economy is pretty solid. I think it’s strong enough to survive all of the turmoil in Washington [D.C.].”