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U.S. Economy Adds 287,000 Jobs In June


The Labor Department's report today makes it appear that the job market had a gangbuster June with 287,000 new jobs added to payrolls. That looks especially good compared to May when hiring seemed to fall off a cliff. But the overall story seems less dramatic, as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Economists, including Jason Furman, will tell you to never panic or celebrate over what happened in a single month.

JASON FURMAN: I think June is just a perfect teaching moment for how to read economic data.

NOGUCHI: Furman, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers, says June hiring proves the job market wasn't going into a tailspin the previous month when the economy added a paltry 11,000 jobs.

FURMAN: I never saw a dramatic slowdown in May in a range of other economic data, so I don't believe that the economy was really bad in May and really fantastic in June.

NOGUCHI: So May's dip probably had to do with seasonal factors that threw off the numbers. There are also signs June did improve in some respects. More people needing additional work found it.

FURMAN: The fraction of people working part time for economic reasons actually fell quite sharply.

NOGUCHI: Average job growth over the last three months probably tells the truest story of how the labor market is fairing. That number is 147,000, which is healthy, but well short of the 200,000 plus average in the last two years.

Harry Holzer a labor economist at Georgetown University says the declining average is also no cause for alarm.

HARRY HOLZER: There's also no question that, you know, once you get down below 5 percent unemployment, it's a little tougher to have really big job gains month after month like we had a few years before 2016.

NOGUCHI: The unemployment rate did go up a bit in June to 4.9 percent, but that was because more job-seekers were drawn into the workforce, not because of layoffs. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.