June 2018 Employment Summary

The U.S. saw yet another considerable monthly surge in the size of its labor force in June 2018. According to the Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll across all American industries added 213,000 jobs during the month.

This is slightly less than May’s tally of 223,000 new positions, but a strong number exceeding the median figure projected by a Bloomberg survey of economic experts, who expected approximately 195,000 jobs added.

Although the unemployment rate rose from May to June – coming in at 4 percent after May’s remarkably low figure of 3.8 percent – many are attributing this to growth in the labor force participation rate, which most recently jumped 0.2 percent to reach 62.9 percent. This indicates an uptick in jobless individuals actively seeking work, particularly among prime-age workers (Americans between the ages of 25 and 54). Brookings Institution senior fellow Gary Burtless confirmed as much in an interview with The Washington Post.

“This trend has been well underway,” Burtless told the news provider. “We had a very, very long recovery from an extremely deep recession. It wasn’t spectacularly fast, but it has been spectacularly long.”

The field of professional and business services stood well above other sectors of the U.S. economy in terms of increased employment for the month, adding a total of 50,000 jobs. Manufacturing saw the second largest gains, creating 36,000 new positions once again on the back of durable goods manufacturing. This smaller category of the field has reaped major overall benefits for the American manufacturing industry, in terms of both revenue and employment.

Healthcare – another consistent performer on the U.S. job market and general economy over the past few years – added 25,000 new positions to its labor force in June. Meanwhile, construction rounded out the group of sectors with five-figure job gains due to the 13,000 new roles it created, and mining was the only other industry with statistically significant employment growth for the month, adding 5,000 jobs altogether.

The only notable drop in total jobs for June occurred within the sector of retail trade – a loss of 22,000 positions. However, because this field of the American labor force added 25,000 jobs during May, any impact on the businesses within it would be minimal. Additionally, seasonal labor shifts, which are common in retail, are almost undoubtedly responsible for some of June’s job losses. This reduces the likelihood that the drop-off is the beginning of any alarming trend – though it’s too early to know all of the exact causes.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., offered a largely positive but nuanced take on the newest numbers from the BLS.

“This is a good job-creation number, but on the other hand we see still continued soft wage growth,” Feroli said. “It’s positive in the sense that we still have some capacity to grow above trend without triggering too much inflation worry.” He added that the Federal Reserve could interpret these indicators as reasons to maintain its current schedule of increases to federal benchmark interest rates, rather than expanding to four rate hikes for 2018 as many economists have anticipated.

Growth in average hourly earnings did slow somewhat during June, with the month’s 5 cent increase representing a 0.2 percent decline from May’s wage gains. Also, concerns persist among some American businesses regarding potential adverse effects of the recent U.S. tariffs on numerous imports, including $34 billion in new levies placed on goods from China as of July 6, 2018. Yet the full effect of those measures remains to be seen, and in the meantime, the American economy is in a positive place, as it has generally been for the past several years.