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The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5% last month as the U.S. economy added 528,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday.

Despite lingering inflation, the Labor Department said U.S. job gains were “generalized” in July, with jobs added in the “leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care” sectors.

The department also said the number of nonfarm workers employed and the U.S. unemployment rate are now the same as they were in February 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The number of “long-term unemployed” — those who have lost their jobs for more than six months — also fell to pre-pandemic levels, falling by 269,000 last month.

The positive monthly jobs report beat the forecasts of many analysts, who had suggested last month’s number of job gains may have been less than in recent months.

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration expects to add 150,000 new jobs last month, a figure that is well below reported numbers.

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