Unemployment, payroll better than expected, but still weak

Unemployment is down from 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent, and jobs and wage gains were more than we'd hoped for -- payroll grew by 117,000. Still, unemployment and payroll aren't where they need to be, the jobs report shows.

Mark Lennihan / AP / File
People walk past a "now hiring" sign outside the future site of a Uniqlo clothing store, in New York, on June 15, 2011. The latest jobs report shows a slight drop in unemployment and a little growth in payroll.

The nation’s payrolls increased by 117,000 last month, with the private sector posted a stronger gain of 1540,000 its best month since April. Job gains for May and June were revised up by a combined 56,000, and hourly wages got a decent bump, up 0.4% over the month.

The unemployment rate ticked down slightly, from 9.2% to 9.1% but that decline was due to fewer people looking for work, not more people finding jobs (note that the payroll data and the unemployment data come from different surveys.

The job and wage gains were better than expected and such expectations matter a lot right now. Fear feeds fear in this hyper-skittish market environment, and today’s better-than-expected jobs numbers should help calm some jittery nerves and reduce some destructive volatility.

Of course, gains of this magnitude along with what is really an unfavorable result on the unemployment rate—it doesn’t help if it falls because more people give up their job search—don’t change the overall story one bit. The economy is growing, but much too slowly to provide working families the jobs, hours or work, and paychecks they need to get ahead.

More details to follow–right now I can’t get on the BLS webpage! Plus, I’ll link to my CBPP colleague Chad Stone’s analysis in a few hours.

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