Jobs Report Shows Economy Struggling to Gain Footing

The U.S. economy added 83,000 private sector jobs in June, on the low end of what economists had been expecting, but evidence, nonetheless, that payrolls are continuing to grow.

The news was tempered by the loss of 225,000 temporary census jobs, and continuing cuts to state and local government payrolls, which resulted in a net loss of 125,000 jobs in June.

Even the decline in the unemployment rate to 9.5 percent from May’s 9.7 percent was tempered. Ordinarily good news, much of the reason for the decline appears to come from the fact that some of the unemployed had simply given up looking for work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released the June employment report this morning, counts only people actively seeking in the previous four weeks as being unemployed.

Against the context of other economic news, including Thursday’s higher-than-expected numbers for first time unemployment claims, the BLS report shows an economy struggling to gain traction.

Since the beginning of the year, the private sector has added almost 600,000 jobs. To reduce the national unemployment rate by any significant amount, economists say 150,000 jobs a month will need to be created. That pace of hiring hasn’t been seen since the fall of 2007.

Still, there were indications that even though employers weren’t willing to commit, they continued to date, hiring another 21,000 temporary workers. It’s a sign that business is improving, at least enough to bring in additional workers.

On the other hand, the workweek decreased slightly for all private, non-farm workers by .1 hours to 34.1 hours. The manufacturing workweek declined by .5 hours to 40 hours even. It had risen in May by .4 hours.  Hourly pay for private non-farm workers decreased by two cents to $22.53. It had been rising in all but one of the last 12 months.

The Dow Jones and other stock market indices seemed to have expected the news. Prices were flat to slightly up in the first minutes after trading began this morning.

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