Hiring surged in July as U.S. economy exceeds expectations despite inflation, rate hikes

Catherine Rampell:

In general, it was a very strong report. Again, this was faster pace — a faster pace of hiring than we expected.

And, in fact, we have now recovered all of the jobs lost at the very beginning of the pandemic. But there were some numbers that were a little bit concerning. For example, the numbers showed that the labor force participation rate declined.

That means the share of people who were either working or looking for work went down. And that’s a bit of a puzzle, given that the economy is very strong. As I said, there’s huge demand for workers, much more demand than there is the number of workers available. Normally, that would be drawing more people into the labor force. And, instead, we’re seeing the reverse.

And another thing that might be somewhat worrying that’s a little bit counterintuitive is that this jobs report was so robust, it shows that the economy is so hot, that it might encourage the Federal Reserve to actually, if not necessarily accelerate the pace of rate hikes, which it might, at least keep its foot firmly on the brake, meaning that, if they’re worried about the economy overheating — and this report continues to show that the job market is strong, the job market is hot — that they might decide that they need to cool it down a little bit.

And, as a result, you might see those rate hikes, which will be painful. So it it’s kind of a good news/bad news story, you almost want a Goldilocks type of report that — where job growth is not so strong that it looks like we’re overheating, not so weak that it looks like we’re in recession. It’s a steady pace. And we’re more than a steady pace at this point.