This morning’s jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department was below the 233,000 consensus estimates of labor economists, but not so much so that it is likely to be seen as any sort of indicator. Summer’s first month is historically the start of a slower hiring period. More closely watched by the Federal Reserve and Wall Street are wage growth — flat in June — and the number of Americans in the labor force. That percentage declined in June to 62.6 percent, the lowest level since 1977.
Both of those indicators suggest that job growth has not yet reached the point where labor demand is keen enough to bring sidelined workers back into the labor force and increase wages above an annual 2 percent where it has been for most of the post-recession recovery. Meanwhile, more workers each month drop out of the official labor pool count. Because they aren’t looking for work, they aren’t counted as unemployed.
In June the number of unemployed persons declined by 375,000 to 8.3 million. An alternate count, which includes workers who want jobs but can’t find them and those working part-time who want full-time jobs, put the nation’s unemployed and “underutilized” at 10.5 percent, a sharp drop from the 12 percent of a year ago. Some found jobs while others may have simply given up and are no longer in the labor force.
June’s job report also brought a 60,000 job decrease in the initial reports for April and May. The Labor Department cut April from 221,000 to 187,000 and May’s count from 280,000 to 254,000. Since January, 1.25 million jobs have been created. Last year, the first six months saw 1.512 million new jobs. Economists blame severe winter weather and a port strike on the West coast for slowing job growth at the beginning of the year.
Among the biggest gainers in June were:
- Healthcare +40,100, with 22,600 of those jobs in doctor’s offices, outpatient facilities, and home health services. Hospitals added 10,600 jobs.
- Retail +32,900. Clothing and general merchandise stores added a combined 19,600 jobs. Food and beverage stores added 9,000 jobs.
- Leisure and hospitality +22,000. Bars and restaurants added 29,900 jobs. Offsetting that growth were declines in hotel jobs and sports and entertainment venues.
- Finance and insurance firms +14,700 with strong growth coming from Wall Street +7,400 and insurance related businesses +8,700.
- Transportation and warehousing +17,100.
The nation’s services sector grew by 222,000 jobs. Goods producers added a mere 1,000 new jobs. That sector had spotty job growth; manufacturers added 4,000 jobs, but the downturn in the petroleum industry cost the mining sector 3,000 jobs. For the first time in more than a year, the construction industry shed as many jobs as it gained. Residential builders, which had been expanding their workforce, cut 6,100.