Economy beats expectations with 850,000 jobs in June, unemployment at 5.9%

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The economy rebounded and added 850,000 new jobs in June, a welcome result after two months of disappointing growth.

The unemployment rate slightly increased to 5.9%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The numbers exceeded expectations, with the consensus among economists being that 700,000 jobs would be added, and unemployment would drop from 5.8% to 5.7%.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry grew 343,000, another strong showing, as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease across the country. More than half of those job gains were in restaurants and bars as vaccination rates increase.

NEW JOBLESS CLAIMS AT 364,000, LESS THAN PREDICTED

At least 67% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated. That number is much higher among vulnerable populations, with 88% of those 65 or older having a least one shot and 78% fully inoculated.

President Joe Biden called the jobs report “historic progress” and said the United States is emerging from the “worst crisis in 100 years.” Biden said the economic recovery was a “direct result of the American Rescue Plan.”

Speaking about the lack of bipartisan support for the $1.9 trillion spending package, the president said: “Well, it worked.”

Despite the progress being made in the labor market, the country is still 6.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic high.

Nick Bunker, who leads North American economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said that “things are picking up” after the report was published on Friday.

“All that employer demand is turning into jobs and higher wages for many workers. While labor supply may not be as responsive as some employers might like, they are adding jobs at an increasing rate. This pace of progress is solid and it looks like things can get even better,” he said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner.

“There’s still quite a bit of damage left to repair, but today’s report suggests that we may rebuild sooner rather than later,” he added.

The June jobs report was hotly anticipated, with Republicans characterizing it as a make-or-break moment for Biden’s economic agenda.

Friday’s report is good news for the Biden administration, which has faced criticism for an apparent labor market shortage. Some employers are having trouble finding workers, which GOP states are blaming on supercharged federal unemployment benefits.

Twenty-five states, all Republican-led, have announced that they would opt-out of the federal unemployment benefits boost before it sunsets in September. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah are among some of the states that have already ended unemployment benefits. South Carolina did so on Wednesday, Maryland and Tennessee will do so on July 3, Arizona on July 10, and Indiana is set to do so on July 19.

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Friday’s jobs report follows a Thursday report from the Labor Department that found jobless claims were less than anticipated. Some 364,000 people filed for unemployment, beating economists’ predictions of 390,000 doing so.

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