Dismal jobs report shows unemployment rising to 9.2%
The U.S. employment picture went from bad to ugly last month as employers added almost no new net jobs and the unemployment rate edged up for the third straight month, to 9.2%.
The report Friday from the Labor Department is sure to be a huge disappointment and will raise fresh questions about the sustainability of the recovery, now technically starting its third year.
Analysts had raised their job-growth forecasts for June to 100,000 or more in recent days, hopeful of a rebound after surprisingly few job gains in May, which many attributed to temporary factors such as Japan's earthquake and the spike in oil prices.
But, in fact, the growth of 54,000 jobs previously reported for May was revised down Friday to just 25,000. And the nation's payrolls followed that with a barely perceptible 18,000 new net jobs last month.
From February to April, employers have added an average of 215,000 jobs per month.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up to 9.2 from 9.1% in the previous month and this year’s low of 8.8% in March. Many thousands of people in June dropped out of the labor force, some presumably because of the discouraging outlook.
Friday’s jobs report was remarkable in that there was nothing positive in it. Manufacturing, instead of bouncing back up as many had expected, added a meager 6,000 jobs. Hiring in construction remained dismal. The once-fast-growing temporary-help industry shed jobs for the third month in a row. And budget-strapped government offices eliminated an additional 39,000 jobs from their payrolls. Services remained weak.
Even for those with jobs in June, there was bad news. The average weekly work hours declined by 0.1 to 34.3. And the average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees dropped by one cent to $22.99.
"It's just an across-the-board retreat," said Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute. So bad was the report, she found it hard to describe it and its portent for the future. "This is two months of really scary reports."
-- Don Lee in Washington
Photo: A job seeker looks at a bulletin board at an employment center in Richardson, Texas. Credit: Associated Press