Unemployment Picture Muddies in June

July 5, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nation's unemployment rate edged up slightly in June, despite an increase in job openings.

June’s unemployment rate rose to 5.9% last month from 5.8% in May, according to the Labor Department.  The report also indicated that 36,000 jobs were created in June, on top of a revised 24,000 increase the month before.  The government had originally reported a 41,000 job increase in May (see May Unemployment Rate Tumbles ).

Job growth didn’t quite live up to analyst expectations – some had anticipated anywhere from 75,000 to 89,000 additions.  However, job losses in manufacturing and in the retail sector, including car dealerships and department stores, blunted gains elsewhere, making for tepid job creation during the month, according to the Associated Press.

Some bright spots – health services employment rose by 34,000, mainly in hospitals, and 33,000 jobs were added in finance, insurance, and real estate.

Something for Everyone?
Inflation hawks could find an ominous sign in the average hourly earnings, which rose six cents, or 0.4%, to $14.76 in June  – the biggest increase in seven months.  Wage growth, however, has slackened in year-to-year terms, with June’s increase at 3.3%, down from a peak of 4.4% late last year.

Those looking for signs of economic recovery could take heart from a slight increase in the length of the average workweek.  In June, the week lasted 34.3 hours, up six minutes from May.