The United States unemployment rate slightly decreased as 850,000 jobs were added in June. The monthly hike exceeded the projections of economists, who expected the U.S. to gain roughly 700,000 jobs last month.
This was far more than economists had expected and a signal that American job growth is accelerating despite the wide range of services disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.
The hospitality and leisure sector grew the strongest, having the most ground to cover after the pandemic devastated the travel and service industries. That sector added 343,000 jobs. More than half of them were at restaurants and bars.
Employment also rose in professional and business services (72,000), retail (67,000), and social assistance, where a gain of 32,000 jobs included 25,000 in child daycare services.
Nevertheless, America’s once-strong labor market is still far from being back to normal, down 6.8 million jobs compared with February 2020. According to the report, 6.2 million people reported that they didn’t work at all or worked less because their employer had been affected by the pandemic.
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The unemployment rate stood at 5.9%, up from 5.8% in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Even though the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6%, the number of people quitting their jobs voluntarily to look for another position jumped by 164,000 in June.
It’s a tale of a job market imbalance: Employers are struggling to attract and retain staff as the reopening spurred a hiring surge because some workers are still not ready to return to work. Many fear infection or worry about adequate care for their children or elderly relatives. The expanded jobless benefits that were created to soften the pandemic blow also allow people to take longer in choosing the right job for them, rather than to rush back into the labor market.
Local government education added 155,000 jobs, but the Labor Department said those figures could be distorted by season adjustments and the impact of the pandemic on public school hiring.