On July 6th, the BLS released its latest “The Employment Situation” report, which revealed that 80,000 new jobs were added to the national economy in June, the third consecutive month in which less than 100,000 new positions were generated.
In addition, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged in June, at 8.2 percent, just as most economists had anticipated. However, a majority of economists were still surprised by June’s employment statistics, as many had predicted roughly 90,000 to 100,000 new jobs would be created.
As has been the case throughout the last three years, job growth was quite volatile during the first half of the year. With the release of June’s figures, 75,000 new jobs, on average, were created during the second quarter, the lowest three month average since fall 2010. To compare, an average of nearly 225,000 new jobs were generated each month from January to March.
Despite the volatility, Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and President Barack Obama remained optimistic about the nation’s economic progress, shortly after the release of June’s jobs report.
“The economy has now added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs during that period,” said Krueger.
“That’s a step in the right direction,” said Obama. “[But] we’ve got to grow the economy even faster, and put even more people back to work.”
Although the nation’s employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, lingers at a near three-decade low and the national unemployment rate has been measured above eight percent for 41 straight months, the Obama administration expressed optimism and painted to some positive signs in the economy.
First, the total number of Americans who applied for first-time unemployment benefits dropped during the last week of June, to 374,000, a decrease of 14,000 and the lowest level recorded in nearly two months. Since June 2011, first-time unemployment benefit applications have declined by 12 percent, a sign that organizational layoffs are beginning to recede.
Second, according to recent statistics, 3.4 million job openings were documented in April, an increase of 13 percent, when compared to April 2011’s data. And, average hourly earnings rose by six cents last month, to $23.50 per hour, the largest increase since spring 2011.
“Much more remains to be done. There are no quick fixes to the problems we face,” said Krueger. “It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure.”