The U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs in July, continuing a steady expansion. Friday’s report from the Labor Department showed few changes from the prior month on a range of measures, including the unemployment rate, at 5.3%, and the labor-force participation rate.
The economy has added around 2.9 million jobs over the past 12 months. That’s down slightly from earlier this year, when the 12-month paced surpassed three million, but it is still well ahead of the 2.5 million jobs added for the year ended July 2014.
Job growth over the past three months reached its highest level since February, with an average 235,000 jobs added per month.
Meanwhile, the unemployed rate held steady at 5.3%. A broader gauge of underemployment, which includes workers who have part-time positions but say they would like full-time jobs, ticked down to 10.4%.
The economy is very different for college graduates, who face only a 2.6% unemployment rate, compared with 5.5% for those who have no education beyond high school and 8.3% for those who did not complete high school.
The share of Americans in the labor force—that is, those who are working or looking for work, has remained at the lowest level since 1977. The share of Americans with jobs has risen slightly in the past five years, but remains lower than before the recession.
One reason for the decline in labor-force participation has been the aging of the U.S. population and the retirement of baby boomers. When looking only at workers between ages 25 and 54, labor-force participation is at 80.7%. That’s still down from before the recession, as is the share of workers with jobs.
The report provided few signs of accelerating wage inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.4% from a year earlier, but that mostly reflected slightly more hours worked in July. Hourly wages were 2.1% higher than a year earlier.
The vast majority of jobs added since the recession officially ended in June 2009 have been full-time positions. More than 8 million more full-time jobs have been added.
Still, more than 8 million full-time jobs were lost during the recession, which began in December 2007. The U.S. has nearly recovered all of those lost full-time jobs.
Half of all unemployed workers have been without work for 11.3 weeks.
The share of the unemployed who have been without work for more than half a year has been gradually decreasing. But even five years since the recession officially ended, today’s share of the long-term jobless is higher than any of the previous three recessions.
The level of workers who are considered long-term unemployed is still higher than it was in December 2007, when the recession ended, but it has been coming down steadily.