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Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.9%

The June employment report revealed a smaller than anticipated 36,000 gain in nonfarm payrolls. Downward revisions to both April and May left the economy with 44,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.9% from 5.8%, as a sizable number of students hit the labor market during the month and likely had difficulty finding jobs.

Goods producers jobs fell by 10,000 during the month, thanks to a 23,000 drop in manufacturing employment. Construction payrolls expanded 14,000 after contracting since January. Service producers added 46,000 jobs, thanks to a 33,000 gain in service jobs and a 23,000 increase in government employment. Jobs in retail trade business fell 18,000 after a 22,000 drop.

Overall, the report was actually stronger than expected despite the disappointment over payrolls. The June gain in the workweek to 34.3 hours and the 0.4% gain in average hourly earnings are both consistent with monthly gains in the 0.4% area for personal income and industrial production. The hours-worked index rose a solid 0.3% for the month, and posted positive growth of 0.3% for the second quarter as a whole, versus the 0.5% rate of contraction in first quarter.

The data are consistent with 3% real GDP growth in the second quarter. From Standard & Poor's Global Markets

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