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Milestone for Trump: 1 million new jobs in six months

America has added more than a million jobs since President Trump took office.

The U.S. economy added a strong 209,000 jobs in July, more than economists had expected. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, matching a 16-year low. Just after the Great Recession in 2009, unemployment peaked at 10%.

“The economy is looking pretty good,” said Cathy Barrera, chief economic adviser at ZipRecruiter, the job posting site.

Many economists say the United States is at or near “full employment,” meaning the unemployment rate won’t go down significantly more.

Related: The U.S. dollar has plunged on Trump’s watch

The job market continues to be one of the main strengths of the U.S. economy. July was the 82nd consecutive month of job growth.

But wage growth is sluggish. Wages grew only 2.5% in July compared with a year earlier. The Federal Reserve would like to see wage growth kick up to 3.5%.

“There’s still questions about when we’re going to see that spike” in wages, said Chris Gaffney, president of Everbank World Markets. “Are we going to see more wage increases for U.S. workers?”

The United States has added 1.07 million jobs during Trump’s six months in office. Of course, he isn’t entirely responsible for the job market. A slew of factors throughout the economy affect hiring decisions.

July’s job gains came across the board. Restaurants and bars added 53,000 employees. Health care gained 39,000 new positions. Manufacturing firms hired 16,000 workers. Business services and mining were also among the gainers.

More Americans who were on the sidelines jumped back into the job market in July to look for work. Experts say that as unemployment stays low and wage growth remains steady, more Americans should start looking for work again.

“There’s still lots of people coming back into the labor force, looking for jobs,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual, an insurance firm.

The good economic news comes days after Trump endorsed an immigration plan aimed at lowering the number of foreign-born workers by designing a skills-based system to determine who gets into the United States. Last year, there were 27 million foreign-born workers in the United States.

Several economists say the plan would put U.S. economic growth at risk if it meant there would be fewer workers in America. Economic growth is already paltry, and Trump has promised to boost it to 3% from its current range of about 2%.

“It would definitely slow economic growth if you slow the number of people coming in,” Rick added.

How Trump compares with Obama so far on jobs

President Donald Trump loves to talk about creating jobs, and now has more than million jobs to point to.

With July’s jobs report, employers have added a total of 1,074,000 jobs during Trump’s first six full months in office.

That essentially matches the 1,084,000 jobs created during President Barack Obama’s last six months in office. Both round to 1.1 million, and the 10,000 difference is well within the margin of error of the Labor Department estimate.

Of course, Trump’s six-month record is far better than Obama’s first six months, when 3.4 million jobs were lost. That’s because Obama was sworn in during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, when the economy was hemorrhaging jobs.

By contrast, Obama handed Trump an economy that was close to what economists consider full employment. The unemployment rate on Inauguration Day was 4.8%, and it has fallen since then, to 4.3% in July.

At full employment, businesses have an extremely difficult time finding available, qualified workers to fill job openings.

In fact, if Obama left a problem for Trump, it wasn’t that the economy was too weak — it was that the labor market was almost too strong. Employers may well be hiring faster if they weren’t having so much trouble finding the workers they need.

The most recent Labor Department data shows there were 5.7 million unfilled job openings — close to the record number since it started keeping track in 2000.

The odds have become much better for people looking for work. Nearly twice as many people are quitting jobs as are being laid off or fired — a sign of a strong labor market.

Trump’s record of 1.1 million jobs in six months is less than the 1.2 million added during the same period a year ago under Obama. It essentially matches the first six months of Obama’s second term, when 1.1 million jobs were added.

The economy lost 515,000 jobs during the first six months of George W. Bush’s tenure, in 2001, when the country was falling into a recession. But by the first six months of his second term, employers added 1.5 million jobs, outpacing Trump’s six-month total.

President Bill Clinton’s six-month totals were 1.3 million jobs added in his first term (in 1993) and 1.7 million in his second term (in 1997).

Trump’s figures could still improve: The readings for June and July are still preliminary, and other months could be revised, too.