June Job Gains Surpass Expectations

Health care leads the way with most new work opportunities

By Roy Maurer Jul 7, 2017

The U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs in June, besting expectations from economists and private-sector reporting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS also upwardly revised the new jobs totals for April and May to add an additional 47,000 jobs, bringing the three-month average to 194,000. Employment growth has averaged 180,000 jobs per month through the first half of the year, in line with the average monthly gain of 187,000 jobs in 2016.

Economists responding to a Bloomberg survey predicted that the economy would add 170,000 jobs in June and ADP's monthly forecast projected only 158,000 new jobs. 

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent—a 16-year low hit in May.

"June was the strongest month for job growth under the Trump administration," said Jed Kolko, chief economist for job search engine Indeed. "The increase in payrolls was the highest of the year, after stripping out first-quarter volatility from weather-sensitive industries. Although unemployment rose slightly, broader household measures of labor force participation and employment-population ratios partly reversed their May declines."

Significant job gains occurred in health care (37,000 jobs), professional and business services (35,000 jobs), food services (29,000 jobs) and social assistance (23,000 jobs). The mining sector added 8,000 jobs in June, adding to a total of 56,000 new jobs since reaching a recent low point in October 2016.

However, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade all showed little change, which are areas that can provide middle-income opportunity.

"The manufacturing jobs recovery isn't happening," Kolko said. Another worry spot is wage growth, which remains at a low level, he added.

Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers rose by 4 cents in June to $26.25. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent.

Since January, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has decreased by 658,000, according to the BLS report.

The unemployment rates for adult men (4.0 percent), adult women (4.0 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), blacks (7.1 percent), and whites (3.8 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Hispanics (4.8 percent) and teenagers (13.3 percent) dropped about a percentage point each.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) sits at 1.7 million and accounts for 24 percent of the unemployed.

The number of individuals categorized as involuntary part-time workers—those seeking full-time employment but working part time—ticked up to 5.3 million in June.

Additionally, 1.6 million people were considered marginally attached to the labor force—that is, they are unemployed but want and are available to work, and had looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months. Among this group, 514,000 individuals were considered discouraged—not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The remaining 1.1 million people marginally attached to the labor force in June had not searched for work in the past month for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities, according to the BLS.

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