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By PAUL WISEMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added an astonishing 528,000 jobs last month despite flashing warning signs of an economic downturn, easing fears of a recession and handing President Joe Biden some good news heading into the midterm elections.

Unemployment dropped another notch, from 3.

6% to 3.5%, matching the more than 50-year low reached just before the pandemic took hold.

The economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 slammed the U.S.

The red-hot numbers reported Friday by the Labor Department are certain to intensify the debate over whether the U.S. is in a recession.

“Recession — what recession?’ wrote Brian Coulton, chief economist at Fitch Ratings, after the report came out. “The U.S. economy is creating new jobs at an annual rate of 6 million — that’s three times faster than what we normally see historically in a good year.”

Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs last month, in a drop-off from June’s revised 398,000. Instead, July proved to be the best month since February.

The strong figures are welcome news for the Biden administration and the Democrats at a time when many voters are worried about the economy.

Inflation is raging at its highest level in 40 years, and the economy has contracted for two quarters in a row, which is the common — but informal — definition of a recession and does not take into account a host of other factors economists consider, such as the job picture.

Biden took credit for the resilient labor market Friday, saying: “It’s the result of my economic plan.”

The president has boosted job growth through his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law last year. Republican lawmakers and some leading economists, however, say the administration’s spending has contributed to high inflation.

On Wall Street, stocks dropped on the initial news. While a strong job market is a good thing, it also makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will continue raising interest rates to cool the economy.

“The strength of the labor market in the face of … rate-tightening from the Fed already this year clearly shows that the Fed has more work to do,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management. “Overall, today’s report should put the notion of a near-term recession on the back burner for now.″

The Labor Department also reported that hourly earnings posted a healthy 0.5% gain last month and are up 5.2% over the past year. But that is not enough to keep up with inflation, and many Americans are having to scrimp to pay for groceries, gasoline, even school supplies.

“There’s more work to do, but today’s jobs report shows we are making significant progress for working families,” the president said.

Job growth was especially strong last month in the health care industry and at hotels and restaurants.

The number of Americans saying they had jobs rose by 179,000, while the number saying they were unemployed fell by 242,000. But 61,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force in July, trimming the share of those working or looking for work to 62.1% from 62.2% in June.

New Yorker Karen Smalls, 46, started looking for work three weeks ago as a member of the support staff for social workers.

“I didn’t realize how good the job market is right now,’ she said shortly after finishing her fifth interview this week. “You look at the news and see all these bad reports … but the job market is amazing right now.’

A single mother, she is weighing several offers, looking for one that is close to her home in New York City and pays enough to let her take care of her two children.

Two years ago, the pandemic brought economic life to a near standstill as companies shut down and millions of people stayed home or were thrown out of work. The U.S. plunged into a deep, two-month recession.

But massive government aid — and the Fed’s decision to slash interest rates and pour money into financial markets — fueled a surprisingly quick recovery. Caught off guard by the strength of the rebound, factories, shops, ports and freight yards were overwhelmed with orders and scrambled to bring back the workers they furloughed when COVID-19 hit.

The result has been shortages of workers and supplies, delayed shipments and high inflation. In June, consumer prices were up 9.1% from a year earlier, the biggest increase since 1981.

The Fed has raised its benchmark short-term interest rate four times this year in a bid to tame inflation, with more increases ahead.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh conceded that businesses and consumers are worried about inflation but added: “Companies are still growing, and they’re looking for employees. And that’s a good sign.’

In a report filled with mostly good news, the Labor Department did note that 3.9 million people were working part-time for economic reasons in July, up by 303,000 from June. Department economists said that reflected an increase in the number of people whose hours were cut because of slack business.

Some employers are also reporting signs of slack in the job market.

Aaron Sanandres, CEO and co-founder Untuckit, an online clothing company with nearly 90 stores, has noticed that in the past few weeks that it has been a bit easier filling jobs at the corporate headquarters in New York and part-time roles at the stores.

“We have had a plethora of candidates,” Sanandres said. He also said the labor market has been loosening up for engineers, probably as a result of some layoffs at technology companies.

Simona Mocuta, chief economist at State Street Global Advisors, was among those stunned by the strong hiring numbers when other indicators show an economy losing momentum.

Mocut said it is possible that hiring rose so sharply last month because job candidates, seeing signs of an impending slowdown, are now more willing to accept jobs they would have balked at earlier in the year. Conditions may now be “shifting in employers’ favor,’ she said.

Whatever the reason for it, the employment data released Friday shows an astonishingly strong and resilient job market.

”Underestimate the U.S. labor market at your own peril,” said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Yes, output growth might be slowing and the economic outlook has some clouds on the horizon. But employers are still champing at the bit to hire more workers. That demand may fade, but it’s still red hot right now.”

____

Josh Boak in Washington, Anne D’Innocenzio in New York and Courtney Bonnell in London contributed to this story.

News Source: mercurynews.com

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Catelynn & Tyler Baltierra Tyler Still Owe Serious Tax Money

MTV "Teen Mom" star Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra owe more than $300,000 in taxes

“Teen Mom” star Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra owe more than $300,000 in taxes, according to The Sun. The report came after fans accused Lowell of “begging” for money when she asked them to donate cash to her daughter’s cheerleading team.

The Sun discovered the reality TV stars, who have been married since 2015, are behind a total of $321,789.06.

According to documents obtained by The Sun, the Baltierras were slapped with a federal tax lien in December 2019 for money they owed the government related to the year 2018.

They were also behind on their taxes for 2016 and 2017, but they paid off that total — $535,010.97 — in 2021, per The Sun.

Lowell and Baltierra have three children together: 7-year-old Nova, 3-year-old Vaeda and 11-month-old Rya Rose. They placed their eldest, 13-year-old Carly, for adoption when she was born.

Lowell Asked Fans for Hundreds of Dollars View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Catelynn Baltierra (@catelynnmtv)

Fans said Lowell was “tacky” after she asked her 4.3 million to donate to Nova’s cheerleading fundraiser.

“Anything helps thank you so much!” she wrote on August 11. “Forgot to say for donations your name gets put into a drawing for prizes! Can’t believe I’m gonna be a cheerleader mom ❤️???????? if you want to donate to the fundraiser send me a DM.”

The “Teen Mom” star was asking fans for nearly $500.

Lowell asked for more a second time on August 14.

“Saw some people’s comment that they wanted to donate for Nova’s cheer and messaged me but haven’t heard back,” Baltierra wrote. “Please send me another message and God bless you all! She’s so excited seeing everyone rooting her on!”

‘Teen Mom’ Has Been Revamped View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Catelynn Baltierra (@catelynnmtv)

Lowell is slated to appear on MTV’s new “Teen Mom” spinoff, called “The Next Chapter.” The series is slated to debut on September 6.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Baltierra would appear alongside her in the spinoff. “The Next Chapter” is a combination of the cast from “Teen Mom OG” and “Teen Mom 2.”

In addition to Lowell, Maci Bookout, Amber Portwood, Cheyenne Floyd, Leah Messer, Briana DeJesus, Jade Cline and Ashley Jones will appear in the series.

There will be a cameo appearance by Jenelle Evans. It’s the first time she’s returned to MTV since her firing in 2019.

Kailyn Lowry and Chelsea Houska were asked to come back — as well as Ryan Edwards — but all three declined to participate.

It wasn’t clear if Farrah Abraham was asked to come back. She made a brief appearance during season 1 of “Teen Mom: Family Reunion,” but left early.

Mackenzie McKee, who first starred in “Teen Mom 3” and then “Teen Mom OG,” was not asked to return.

MTV touted “The Next Chapter” as a “supersized” version of “Teen Mom.”

“You were there when they first became moms. Now be there as they turn their next page together,” the trailer says.

“Tuesdays on MTV, follow moms from ‘Teen Mom OG’ and ‘Teen Mom 2’ in one mother of a supersized series. ‘Teen Mom: The Next Chapter: The celebrations are bigger; the relationships are stronger but the setbacks are tougher than ever,” the trailer adds. “The moms are back and having each other’s backs in the biggest ‘Teen Mom’ ever.”

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