Jobs report smashes expectations

The U.S. economy added 224,000 nonfarm payrolls during June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consensus estimates were for 160,000 positions added during the month, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. May’s figures were revised to 72,000 positions, down from the previously reported 75,000. Employment growth now averages 172,000 per month this year.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7%. Economists were anticipating that the unemployment rate would hold steady at 3.6%, near five-decade lows. Meanwhile, average-hourly earnings rose 0.2% from May and 3.1% year-over-year. The labor force participation rose to 62.9%.

Sectors with the most notable job gains in June include the professional and business services, health care and transportation and warehousing sectors. Manufacturing employment surged in June, with 17,000 positions created. Economists were predicting 3,000 jobs in the sector.

June’s jobs report comes amid signs that the slowdown in the U.S. economy is starting to creep into the labor market. On Wednesday, ADP/Moody’s released its June private sector employment report, which showed that job creation in the private sector grew at a disappointing pace. The U.S. added 102,000 private payrolls in June, while consensus estimates were for 140,000 positions. May’s figures were revised to 41,000 private jobs added, up from the 27,000 that was previously reported.

“Job growth started to show signs of a slowdown,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “While large businesses continue to do well, small businesses are struggling as they compete with the ongoing tight labor market.”

Though the ADP report is not always a reliable indicator of what the BLS report will illustrate, it does provide a bit of insight into the health of employment in the U.S.

Furthermore, U.S. job cuts in the first half of this year are at their highest total in a decade, according to a new report from Challenger Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm.

U.S. employers announced that they will be cutting 140,577 jobs in the second quarter, according to Challenger. Though that figure is down 26% from the first quarter, it is a 34% jump from last year. Those additional job cuts in the second quarter brings the first-half total this year to 330,987, which is a 35% increase from the same period last year.

Thus many are growing more concerned that the U.S. labor market will begin to meaningfully deteriorate if June’s figures are much weaker than expected. “Release of the June jobs report comes at a potentially critical juncture for the U.S. economy,” Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst, told Yahoo Finance. “For workers, business leaders, and ultimately, consumers and investors, downside risks are growing.”

The jobs report this month will carry extra weight, particularly for the Federal Reserve, as the central bank weighs whether or not to cut short-term interest rates. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that “crosscurrents” have reemerged recently with trade uncertainty and global economic slowdown concerns.

“Wrapping up the first half of the year, the Federal Reserve is giving all indications that it is prepared to reverse course and begin to cut rates as soon as late July,” Hamrick explained. “The tone of the June jobs reading could help seal the rate-cutting deal for the increasingly cautious Fed led by Chairman Jerome Powell, under constant verbal fire from President Trump.”

According to the CME FedWatch tool, the probability of a 25 basis point rate cut at the Fed’s July meeting currently stands at a 70.3% chance.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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