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Economic recovery continues, though gradually

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department announced job figures for July. While the report offered mixed signs, one important finding was that, over the last twelve months, employers have added more positions than any other twelve-month span over the last five years of the economic recovery. This signals important economic growth, albeit at a gradual pace, explains the New York Time's article.

While the unemployment rate did increase one-tenth of a percent in July from 6.1 percent in June, the New York Times explains that this attributable to a greater number of people looking for jobs and greater professional opportunities.

Moreover, employers added 2.57 million positions over the course of 2013, the most significant increase in job creation over any 12-month period in the last five years of the economic recovery. 

The report also offered other encouraging signs, especially in terms of growth in higher-paying industries. "'This is another solid report that shows we are sustaining the momentum of broad-based growth in the economy,'" said Thomas E. Perez, the labor secretary, in a telephone interview with the Times. 

However, less positive data accompanies these findings. Most importantly, the number of unemployed did not decrease, remaining at 59 percent for July, virtually unchanged from the 58.7 percent mark last year.

This represents the lowest levels since the late 1970s, noted the Times. Experts agree that given the number of unemployed, the market still needs to make significant progress "to reach a level where most people who want to work can find a job relatively easily." 

Additionally, the debate over how rising wages impact economy growth continued. News showed that wages stayed flat despite an Employment Cost Index report last Thursday that American labor "costs recorded their biggest gain since the third quarter of 2008," writes the Times. This prompted a sell-off among Wall Street investors on Thursdays, yet many economists consider rising wages an integral part of continuing economic growth. 

"Higher wages have been a key missing ingredient from the recovery,' Jared Bernstein, an economist at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities," wrote in a blog.