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U.S. private sector jobs have returned to prepandemic levels

June saw strong jobs growth, allaying concerns of an imminent recession.

Private sector jobs in the U.S. have returned to levels not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

With 381,000 employees hired in the private sector in June, the U.S. eclipsed the prepandemic high of 129,625,000 total private, nongovernment jobs seen in February 2020, with the new total standing at 129,765,000.

Not all sectors have surpassed their prepandemic levels, though. Notably, the leisure and hospitality industries remain more than 1 million payrolls short of their February 2020 levels, while education and health services fell short by 259,000 jobs.

The sectors with the largest leads over their prepandemic numbers include transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and retail trade.

Economists said the ongoing robust job gains mean the U.S. is unlikely to experience a recession.

And with the unemployment rate at 3.6%, joblessness remains near 50-year lows.

That led at least one Federal Reserve official to tell CNBC Friday he is already comfortable with another 0.75% increase in interest rates at the central bank's next meeting on July 27. His remarks suggest that job growth remains too high to cool off inflation, which has been at a 40-year high for months now.

“We can move by 75 basis points at the next meeting and not see a lot of protracted damage to the economy,” Bostic said, using the technical term for a 0.75% interest rate hike.

But not all market commentators agree that there won't be damage from another three-quarter point rate hike.

"The U.S. economy is still expanding, and job growth is strong enough to avoid a recession for now, but aggressive rate hikes could lead to a material slowdown," said Wilmington Trust in a note to clients Friday.