The new jobs report, released just before the July Fourth holiday, blew away expectations with 288,000 new jobs for the month of June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That number beat economists' expectations of 215,000, and the report revised job growth for May and April to add up to 1.4 million jobs in the first six months of the year — the strongest six-month stretch since pre-recession 2006, according to CNN Money.
Unemployment is down to 6.1, the lowest rate since 2008, and experts are optimistic about the drop — which appears to be coming from real jobs and people joining the labor force, and not because of skewed statistics that don't count people who have stopped looking for work altogether.
“This was a strong report any way you slice it,” RBS U.S. economist Omair Sharif wrote in a note on the news. He pointed out that the unemployment rate is “where the Fed thought we would be at year-end, and it’s only June.”
Other experts agree that the news is genuine. “The report was not only better than expected, but strong across the board,” Kate Warne, head of research at investment firm Edward Jones, told International Business Times. “If you look at this report, no matter how you dig into it, it shows the labor market is improving.”
So where are these new jobs? Small- and medium-size businesses, those with less than 50 employees, according to NPR, and some sectors, like construction — which was hard hit during the recession — are getting a boost after the long winter, but non-seasonal work like financial services have also increased hiring.
The business services sector reported 67,000 new jobs, retail, food and drink and health care added 40,000, 33,000, and 21,000 jobs respectively according to Forbes. Manufacturing and wholesale trade went up, while information and government hiring have remained flat.
Not all the jobs are high-quality, according to CNN Money, which says that many workers reported part-time work, and the Bureau of Labor report says that 7.5 million Americans said they could still only find part-time work when they need full-time jobs.
Neil Irwin, economics correspondent for The New York Times, is also cautiously optimistic. He's reminded of January 2012 when the jobs report had an even bigger boom at 360,000 new jobs. But that rebound didn't last. And while this latest report is the high point since the recession, it "only barely" surpasses highs in March of 2012 and November of last year.
Tara Sinclair, economics professor at George Washington University and for Indeed.com, the biggest jobs search engine in the U.S., told Forbes that the diversity of jobs in the BLS report was a hopeful signal of a "more robust recovery" that we have seen before, and this seems to be backed up by job postings on Web.
"We’ve definitely seen over the past few months a greater diversity of jobs appearing on our site,” Sinclair told IBTimes. “We’re seeing a lot of IT and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] jobs and some top titles across the major cities in project management, account managers and executive positions. Just a few months ago the job positions were dominated by health care and education."
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