American economists woke to a welcome surprise this morning with the July employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even with sky-high inflation and negative economic growth for two straight quarters, 528,000 more Americans now have a job, which brought the unemployment rate down to 3.5%. Both of these numbers are now lower than they were before the pandemic began.

The largest gains in jobs were in educational and health services which added 122,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality also increased by 96,000 though it has not recovered to its pre-pandemic levels. Rounding out the top three gainers was professional and business services which increased by 89,000.

Increases in jobs of this magnitude are unusual when the economy is also dealing with inflation north of nine percent over the year and the size of the economy shrunk for more than half of the year. It is possible that an increased number of workers can address both of these issues by increasing the supply of goods, thus increasing both economic growth and meeting market demand.

For the people of Louisiana, the next job report will be key. Will the Pelican State follow the national trend of adding plenty more jobs, or will its reliance on a few key sectors continue to hinder its recovery as it has recently? Policymakers can take steps to promote the former. By passing key reforms such as tax reform and occupational licensing reforms, we can help create a Louisiana that is competitive and more prosperous for families.