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Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. economy added 943,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate fell from 5.9% to a new pandemic-era low of 5.4%.

Why it matters: It’s the biggest hiring spree in almost a year as the labor market makes strides to a full recovery.

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Context: Economists expected the economy to add around 850,000 jobs, though estimates varied widely from as low as 350,000 to as high as 1.2 million.

  • The government’s jobs survey occurred in mid-July — and therefore doesn’t fully reflect possible effects from the recent surge in COVID-19 infections from the Delta variant. But it shows how quickly the U.S. employment picture can improve.
  • Next month's report will show whether Delta can derail that momentum.

By the numbers:

  • The U.S. economy added 943,000 jobs. Hiring hasn't been this furious since August 2020.
  • The unemployment rate fell a half-point to a new post-pandemic low of 5.4%.
  • Total employment is now 5.7 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level, while unemployment is still quite far from the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%.

Zoom in: Pay continued to jump, with wages rising 4% from this time last year.

  • The leisure and hospitality sector continued to recover. Its 380,000 new jobs accounted for the biggest bulk of job gains — despite concerns about labor shortages.

🥊 In a nutshell: "I've never before seen such a wonderful set of economic data," tweeted Jason Furman, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.

Go deeper

America’s COVID future has arrived

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The U.S. and COVID-19 are settling into a long, but hopefully manageable future together.

The big picture: The worst of the pandemic is likely behind us, but the virus is here to stay. We’re entering a new phase — one in which the country’s overall experience with this virus will be less like having a heart attack, and more like managing a lifelong chronic condition.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.