The US economy added 372,000 jobs in June, beating expectations

(CNN) – The US economy added 372,000 jobs in June, an unexpected boost to employment and a sign that the labor market remains hot despite recession fears, according to the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released this week.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%, still near a 52-year low in the months leading up to the pandemic.

Total jobs in June, up from 384,000 adjusted jobs in May, indicate that the country’s labor market is showing continued strength as it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

After recent monthly increases, the job market is now far from its pre-pandemic level with 524,000 jobs, according to BLS data.

The largest job gains in June were in professional and business services, entertainment and hospitality, and the healthcare sectors, with notable gains in areas such as food services and warehousing.

The momentum continues

The labor market remains a source of strength for the economy. The latest data from the Job Offers and Labor Rotation Survey published earlier this week showed that in May there were 11.3 million jobs available, or 1.9 jobs for each person looking for work, along with historically low levels of layoffs.

Wages continued to rise in June, but were still outpaced by the highest inflation rates in the past 40 years. Average hourly wages are up 5.1% in the past 12 months. The labor force participation rate, at 62.2%, is little changed from the previous month, but is still below the pre-pandemic level of 63.4%.

“The labor market continues to advance despite growing headwinds and recession fears,” Daniel Chao, chief economist at Glassdoor, said in a statement. “Despite the slowing economy, the labor market remains a strong point of recovery. Strong demand from employers supports strong, albeit slowing, job gains.”

The rapid rise in prices plunged the Federal Reserve into a campaign of successive price increases to cool the economy.

“The jobs report does not prevent Fed officials from sticking with their plans to raise interest rates, seeking to bring inflation closer to their 2% target,” Mark Hamrick, chief economist at Bankrate, said in a statement. “The Fed’s next major reading is the Consumer Price Index due for release in the next few days.”

The epidemic continues to weigh on workers

The pandemic prevented more Americans from returning to the job market in June, which has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases since May.

Of those outside the workforce, about 610,000 people were unable to find work in June due to the pandemic, up from 455,000 the previous month. This is the first increase in this measure since the omicron variant swept the nation in January.

The Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse survey also showed that the pandemic severely affected Americans’ ability to work in June. Nearly 3.7 million people said they were not working because they were sick with Covid symptoms or were caring for someone who was sick, according to the survey conducted in the first two weeks of June.

That number was 3.1 million in the previous survey conducted between the end of April and the beginning of May.

CNN’s Tami Lube contributed to this report.

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