850,000 Gain Is Better Than Expected in June 2021 Jobs Report

The Labor Department data follows several promising signs about the economic outlook.

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June jobs report shows a gain of 850,000, better than expected.

July 2, 2021, 5:06 a.m. ET

Hiring jumped in June.

Cumulative change in jobs since before the pandemic

-20

-15

-10

-5 million

April

June

Sept.

Jan. ’21

April

-6.8 million since February 2020

152.5 million jobs in February 2020

Data is seasonally adjusted.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

By Ella Koeze

Hiring leapt back up in June as employers added 850,000 workers, the government reported Friday, a fresh sign that the labor market’s recovery is gaining momentum.

The unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.9 percent, the Labor Department said.

The report follows several promising economic developments this week. Consumer confidence, which surged in June, is at its highest point since the pandemic’s onset last year. Stocks closed out the first half of the year at record highs, and businesses’ plans for capital investments are rising. The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the economy was on track to recover all the jobs lost in the pandemic by the middle of next year.

“I think it’s a very solid and strong report and very encouraging that we’re seeing over the last few months continued increase in the net job creation,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist for Oxford Economics. She noted that the totals fell below the one million mark that the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, has said he would like to see. Still, she added, “the momentum is moving in the right direction.”

At the moment, 6.8 million fewer jobs exist than before the pandemic. Millions of people have dropped out of the labor force, however, and “job openings far outnumber the applicants,” said Karen Fichuk, chief executive of the staffing company Randstad North America. “It is truly across the board right now.”

Aside from ever-present concerns about pay and benefits, workers are particularly interested in jobs that allow them to work remotely at least some of the time. According to a Ranstad survey of more than 1,200 people, 54 percent say they prefer a flexible work arrangement that doesn’t require them to be on-site full-time.

Health and safety concerns are also very much on the minds of workers whose jobs require face-to-face interactions, the survey found.

The portion of the unemployed who have been out of work for six months or more rose.

Share of unemployed who have been out of work 27 weeks or longer

10

20

30

40

50%

Jan. ’20

Jan. ’21

42.1%

Data is seasonally adjusted.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

By Ella Koeze

“This is a trickier phase of the recovery,” said Sarah House, a senior economist with Wells Fargo. Last year, millions of workers were only temporarily laid off and able to slot back into their previous positions with little delay once reopening began.

Now, employers and workers are “having to make new matches and new connections, and that just takes more time,” she said.

Economists also point to a widespread reallocation of labor — like rounds of musical chairs on a mammoth scale — in which workers are re-evaluating their options. During the pandemic, many workers who had held restaurant and retail jobs may have taken positions in warehouses and manufacturing plants.

At the same time, the appetite for pandemic-driven jobs such as couriers and grocery store workers are ebbing as sectors like leisure and hospitality ramp up.

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