The economy added 223,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, according to the June 2015 jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today. “Good, but hardly great,” as The New York Times puts it.
Reactions across the Internet today have echoed The Grey Lady’s tone, “But it’s important to keep that disappointment in context,” writes FiveThirtyEight. “The U.S. has now added jobs for 57 consecutive months, a streak that is unprecedented since World War II. It has now been three years since the U.S. had a definitively bad month for job growth. (Several months looked bad at first but were subsequently revised up.) Since June 2012, the U.S. has averaged 220,000 new jobs per month, for a combined gain of nearly 8 million jobs.”
Here are three things to know from today’s report:
1. Unemployment falls to seven-year low
Which sounds incredible, and is, but according to MarketWatch, “Even a decline in the unemployment rate to the lowest level since April 2008 was not all positive. The jobless rate fell to 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent because 432,000 people, mostly young Americans who just graduated from school, left the labor force.”
We’ll have to wait a month before we get a more accurate look of where we’re at: According to The Washington Post’s blog, “Some economists and experts cautioned that the labor force participation numbers from June could be muddled by complex calculations that the government uses to smooth out seasonal fluctuations. Normally in June the workforce swells with college graduates and summer workers; the Department of Labor tries to model the underlying trends, but that modeling is harder in months with such churn.”
2. Some industries hotter than others this summer
While the price of oil is affecting consumer spending, other industries are enjoying the regular warm-up that comes to their industries each summer. According to MarketWatch: “Still, after bottoming out in March as the overall economy stalled, hiring has been reasonably strong if not spectacular in recent months, along with other indicators like home sales and consumer spending. In the first half of the year, employers added workers at an average rate of 208,000 a month, compared with a monthly gain of nearly 260,000 jobs in 2014.”
The Wall Street Journal’s blog writes “In the sectoral breakdown, one sector stands to do pretty good in terms of jobs added: construction. May construction data yesterday showed a 1.5 percent gain on the month, following an even stronger April. Construction is now at a post recession-high. So, although there’s been something of anomaly where construction jobs haven’t rebounded to their pre-crisis highs, you can’t build home without hiring workers. Expect this sector to show some solid additions again.”
3. Wages still leave something to be desired
This is an area of disappointment most economists and opinions across the Web are concerned about. “The steady cascade of new jobs is still enough to gradually reduce the unemployment rate and whittle down the number of Americans who want a full-time job. Yet 16.7 million people still couldn’t find a job in June, were forced to stick to part-time work or were too discouraged to continue their search. That’s an unusually high number six years into an economic recovery and helps explain why wages and U.S. economic growth lag behind their historical pace,” writes MarketWatch.
Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said “We’re not at full employment by any stretch. The best way to lift wages is to have tighter labor markets. We’ve had the strongest two-year job growth since the Clinton admin. The challenge for us is, we’re digging out of a much deeper hole.”