Sluggish Wages Add Sour Note to Strong Jobs Report

Unemployment ticks up to 4.4%
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2017 7:53 AM CDT
Job Growth Is Strong, but Wages Stay Sluggish
File photo from a jobs fair for veterans in Pembroke Pines, Fla.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

The US economy created more jobs than expected in June—222,000, ahead of analysts' predictions of about 174,000 and the biggest leap since February. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up to 4.4% from 4.3%. (The latter mark in May had been a 16-year low.) The rate rose because more Americans began looking for work, but not everyone found jobs, reports the AP. Yet even with the robust hiring, average hourly pay rose by just 2.5% from a year earlier, which is below the 3.5% pace typical of a healthy economy.

"Wages are much more important to the market right now than jobs, because we're essentially at full employment," said one analyst before the report came out, per CNBC. "The market now is looking for this economy to grow its income, rather than to grow jobs." Job gains for April and May were revised higher by 47,000. In the first six months of this year, hiring has averaged nearly 180,000 jobs a month. That's only slightly below last year's pace. All in all, investors seemed pleased with the report, with stock futures on the rise, notes the Wall Street Journal. (More unemployment rate stories.)

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