US job creation surges in June, unemployment ticks up

Washington (AFP) –


US job creation rebounded in June while the unemployment rate ticked higher as more people entered the work force in search of jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The US economic engine created another 222,000 jobs last month, while the jobless rate rose a tenth of a point to 4.4 percent, according to the report.

The result far surpassed analyst forecasts for an increase of 173,000 new jobs, and was welcome news for the White House after several months in which other economic data suggested the world's largest economy could be starting to lose steam.

The jobs rebound also was sure to comfort Federal Reserve policymakers planning to hike benchmark interest rates later this year despite persistently weak inflation.

But with the gains in employment came another month of sluggish wage increases. Average hourly earnings rose four cents to $26.25, up 0.2 percent over May and 2.5 percent higher than June of last year -- the same annual gain reported in May.

The labor force participation rate rose a tenth of a point to 62.8 percent, a time when many US students and new college graduates began hunting for summer work. As more workers begin looking for jobs, that can push the unemployment rate higher.

Job gains were seen in healthcare, which added 37,000 new positions, financial services, which rose 17,000, and mining, which increased by 8,000 amid a modest recovery in the oil and gas sector since last summer.

The report also revised May's comparatively somber report higher, which put average job creation over the last three months at 194,000 -- just above the average monthly level recorded in 2016.

The manufacturing sector -- key to President Donald Trump's pledge to revive the economy -- was little changed, adding just 1,000 new positions after losing twice as many the month before.

New positions among autoworkers fell by 1,300 in the sector that has seen sales dwindle after the record pace of 2016.

The share of people out of work but who had been seeking a job for fewer than 26 weeks dropped sharply, falling 18 percent to 948,000.

But the ranks of the long-term unemployed edged up by 1,000 to 1.7 million.