The labor market expanded again in June as employers hired 209,000 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday.
The numbers were something of a disappointment, coming in below expectations and well below the revised 309,000 jobs added in May. But the results point to a surprisingly robust economy nevertheless, even if hiring is softening. Average hourly earnings rose 4.4% on an annual basis, while the unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point to 3.6%, near a 50-year low.
“It's a good solid straight down the middle, this little engine just keeps on chugging along payrolls report,” said University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers.
Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said that the report marks “the longest stretch of sub-4 percent unemployment since the 1960s.” Su also noted that the labor force participation for prime-age women (ages 25 to 54) hit a new high of 77.8% in June. And the overall employment-to-population ratio for prime-age Americans rose to 80.9%, the highest reading since April 2001 and not far off the record high of 81.9% recorded in April 2000.
As Neil Irwin of Axios wrote, “This expansion is putting Americans to work at rates previously unseen in this century.”
Most analysts concluded that the report likely boosts the odds that the Federal Reserve will resume its anti-inflationary campaign of interest rate increases later this month. “The latest jobs and wage data add to evidence that economic activity hasn’t slowed as much as Fed officials expected, and leaves them likely to lift interest rates to a 22-year high at their July 25-26 meeting,” The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Chaney Cambon wrote. “Inflation has eased from its recent peak a year ago, but remains roughly double the Fed’s 2% target.”