— Employers added 224,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department reported on Friday. Economists had expected a gain of about 170,000.
— The unemployment rate was 3.7%, up from 3.6% in May.
— Average earnings rose 6 cents an hour from May and are up 3.1% over the past year.
The job market roared back to life last month, shaking off a spring slowdown and easing fears that the record-setting economic expansion could be running out of steam.
The rebound from May’s disappointing figure was stronger than economists had predicted, suggesting that trade tensions and cooling global growth have done little to sap the job market’s fundamental strength. Unemployment is near a five-decade low, wage growth is solid and employers have added jobs for 105 consecutive months, easily a record.
That resilience is good news for workers, who are benefiting from what is now, at least unofficially, the longest economic expansion on record. But it could complicate the decision facing Federal Reserve policymakers, who are weighing whether to cut interest rates to forestall a downturn — a jolt of stimulus that investors were expecting, but that now looks less necessary.
The Longer Run
June marked the 10th anniversary of the official end of the Great Recession. And unless a new recession has begun (something economists often don’t know for several months), the expansion is now the longest on record.
The recovery has been more remarkable for its durability than for its strength. Hiring has been slower than in many past rebounds, and wage growth has been anemic until recently. Only lately have the gains extended to black and Hispanic workers, the less-educated, and those facing discrimination or other barriers to employment.
The job market picked up last year, at least partly because of tax cuts and government spending increases that provided a short-term boost to economic growth. But those effects are fading. Still, the expansion has repeatedly defied predictions that it was nearing an end.
“We have seen rapid declines like that in this recovery before,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist at the job-search site Indeed. “I think it’s really hard to figure out. Is this just another rapid decline that’s going to go away, or is this a decline we need to start worrying about?”