WASHINGTON — Hiring surged in July as American employers added 943,000 jobs.
Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the delta variant, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% as the U.S. economy continues to bounce back with surprising vigor from last year's coronavirus shutdown.
The July numbers exceeded economists' forecast for more than 860,000 new jobs.
The rosy numbers may have been buoyed by seasonal work, as hotels and restaurants added 327,000 jobs as they continue to recover from lockdown restrictions. In addition, local public schools added 221,000 jobs as they hire workers for the upcoming school year.
The number of people who reported they had jobs surged by 1 million, pushing the jobless rate down from 5.9% in June.
The U.S. economy lost 22 million jobs in March and April of 2020 as the start of the pandemic resulted in nationwide shutdowns. As of last month, the economy had recovered about 16 million of those jobs, leaving a 6.8 million shortfall from February 2020.
In remarks from the White House on Friday, President Joe Biden touted the July jobs report as proof that his economic plan was working.
"While our economy is far from complete...what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working, the Biden plan is producing results and the Biden plan is moving this country forward," he said.
Biden also used his remarks to encourage Americans to seek out vaccinations and wear masks, noting that the current spike in cases is "needless" and holding the country back.
"Our message today is not one of celebration," Biden said, noting that the economy is still not back to pre-pandemic levels. However, he added that "America can beat the delta variant, just as we beat the original COVID-19."