The latest employment report www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm shows the U.S. economy growing at a steady pace, adding 209,000 jobs in July. While the gains were not as strong as the previous three months, the July jobs report marks the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000.
That’s the number of jobs economists believe U.S. employers need to create each month to reduce the unemployment rate. And yet, despite another solid month of hiring, the unemployment rate rose slightly.
The U.S. economy extended its winning streak, bouncing back with another solid month of job gains after a weak start this year. The Obama administration says that's no surprise. Speaking at the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama said tough decisions he made early on are paying off.
“Over the past year, we've added more jobs than any year since 2006. And all told our businesses have created 9.9 million new jobs over the past 53 months. That's the longest streak of private sector job creation in our history," he said.
But it wasn't enough to lower the unemployment rate, which rose one tenth of a percent in July to 6.2 percent. Economist Sean Snaith at the Institute for Economic Competitiveness said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
"People see businesses are hiring at a faster pace, they feel more confident they’re going to be able to find a job so they get back into the job search, which boosts up the labor force and push up those unemployment numbers,” said Snaith.
Americans who are not actively seeking work are not counted as unemployed.
That’s driven the so-called job participation rate to a 35-year low. That means millions of unemployed Americans who have stopped looking for work remain hidden in the shadows. That’s especially true for 3.2 million Americans who have been unemployed 27 months or longer, according to Cornell University Professor Sharon Poczter.
“And the percentage of unemployed that is long-term unemployed is the largest that it’s been since the Great Depression,” she said.
While the job participation rate has risen slightly, the job gains have yet to translate into bigger paychecks for most Americans. Still, key indicators suggest the U.S. recovery is finally gaining momentum five years after the financial crisis.