Job growth in the United States slowed more than expected in June after surging in the prior month, but labour market conditions remain tight, with the unemployment rate retreating from a seven-month high and fairly strong wage gains continuing.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs last month, the Department of Labor said in its closely watched employment report on Friday. Data for May was revised lower to show payrolls rising 306,000 instead of 339,000 as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising 225,000. The economy needs to create 70,000-100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. The unemployment rate slipped to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent in May.
Though job growth is slowing, the labour market remains unbowed despite the Federal Reserve delivering 500 basis points worth of rate hikes since March 2022, when it embarked on its fastest monetary policy tightening campaign in more than 40 years. For now, it is helping the economy to defy economists’ predictions of a recession. The Fed said last month more hikes are likely this year.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.4 percent last month after climbing by the same margin in May. In the 12 months through June, wages increased 4.4 percent, matching May’s advance.
Annual wage growth remains too high to be consistent with the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target. The US central bank is almost certain to resume raising interest rates later this month as signalled by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, after pausing in June.