WASHINGTON — America has added more than a million jobs since President Trump took office.
The U.S. economy added a strong 209,000 jobs in July, more than economists had expected. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, matching a 16-year low. Just after the Great Recession in 2009, unemployment peaked at 10%.
“The economy is looking pretty good,” said Cathy Barrera, chief economic adviser at ZipRecruiter, the job posting site.
Many economists say the United States is at or near “full employment,” meaning the unemployment rate won’t go down significantly more.
The job market continues to be one of the main strengths of the U.S. economy. July was the 82nd consecutive month of job growth.
But wage growth is sluggish. Wages grew only 2.5% in July compared with a year earlier. The Federal Reserve would like to see wage growth kick up to 3.5%.
“There’s still questions about when we’re going to see that spike” in wages, said Chris Gaffney, president of Everbank World Markets. “Are we going to see more wage increases for U.S. workers?”
The United States has added 1.07 million jobs during Trump’s six months in office. Of course, he isn’t entirely responsible for the job market. A slew of factors throughout the economy affect hiring decisions.
July’s job gains came across the board. Restaurants and bars added 53,000 employees. Health care gained 39,000 new positions. Manufacturing firms hired 16,000 workers. Business services and mining were also among the gainers.
More Americans who were on the sidelines jumped back into the job market in July to look for work. Experts say that as unemployment stays low and wage growth remains steady, more Americans should start looking for work again.
“There’s still lots of people coming back into the labor force, looking for jobs,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual, an insurance firm.
The good economic news comes days after Trump endorsed an immigration plan aimed at lowering the number of foreign-born workers by designing a skills-based system to determine who gets into the United States. Last year, there were 27 million foreign-born workers in the United States.
Several economists say the plan would put U.S. economic growth at risk if it meant there would be fewer workers in America. Economic growth is already paltry, and Trump has promised to boost it to 3% from its current range of about 2%.
“It would definitely slow economic growth if you slow the number of people coming in,” Rick added.