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MONEY & BUSINESS: US job growth slows moderately; unemployment rate rises to 4.1% – One America News Network

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July 5, 2024 – 7:00 AM PDT

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth slowed marginally in June, but a rise in the unemployment rate to more than a 2-1/2-year high of 4.1% and moderation in wage gains pointed to an easing of labor market conditions that keeps the Federal Reserve on track to start cutting interest rates this year.


The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday also showed the economy created 111,000 fewer jobs in April and June than previously estimated. About 277,000 people entered the labor force last month, accounting for the increase in the jobless rate from 4.0% in May to the highest level since November 2021.

An expanding labor pool is helping to curb wage growth, with annual wages rising at the slowest pace in three years.

When added to the moderation in prices in May, the report confirmed that the disinflationary trend is back on track after inflation surged in the first quarter.

Financial markets expect the U.S. central bank to start its easing cycle in September after it aggressively tightened monetary policy in 2022 and 2023.

“Slowly, but surely, U.S. labor market conditions are cooling,” said Brian Coulton, the chief economist at Fitch Ratings. “Alongside recent better inflation prints, this will help reassure the Fed that they can safely start cutting rates in September.”

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 206,000 jobs last month, lifted by government hiring, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Data for May was revised sharply down to show 218,000 jobs added instead of the previously reported 272,000. Payrolls for April were revised down by 57,000 to 108,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls would increase 190,000 last month, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.0%. Job growth has averaged about 220,000 per month over the last 12 months.

Economists say the economy needs to create at least 150,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population, accounting for the recent surge in immigration.

Hiring in June continued to be driven by sectors like healthcare and state and local governments, which have seen staffing levels head back to pre-pandemic levels.

Government employment rose by 70,000 jobs, boosted by local government, excluding education and state government. The healthcare sector added 49,000 positions, lifted by increased hiring in ambulatory healthcare services and at hospitals.

Construction payrolls increased by 27,000 jobs. But the retail sector shed jobs, as did manufacturing.

Professional and business services employment declined by 17,000 jobs, with temporary help jobs dropping by about 49,000. That likely portends to slower payrolls gains ahead.


The 525 basis points worth of rate hikes from the Fed since 2022 as well as the exhaustion of excess savings accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic are eroding demand for labor, goods and services.

Financial markets saw a roughly 72% probability of a rate cut at the Fed’s Sept. 17-18 meeting. Traders are also pricing in a rising chance of a second rate cut in December.

The Fed has maintained its benchmark overnight interest rate in the current 5.25%-5.50% range since last July. The minutes of the central bank’s June 11-12 meeting, which were published on Wednesday, showed policymakers acknowledged the economy appeared to be slowing and that “price pressures were diminishing.”

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% last month after advancing 0.4% in May. In the 12 months through June, wages increased 3.9%. That was the smallest gain in wages since June 2021 and followed a 4.1% rise in May. Wage growth in a 3%-3.5% range is seen as consistent with the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao

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