US job growth picks up in June

US job gains picked up speed in June as the economy added 850,000 positions, with big increases in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The increase was better than the consensus forecast of economists and came after two months of disappointing results.

However, the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent in May, the data showed, and the jobless rate for Black workers rose a tenth of a point to 9.2 percent.

As the United States has brought the Covid-19 pandemic under control, hotels and restaurants have reopened and hired at a rapid pace, adding 343,000 positions last month, the report said.

However, the sector is still short 2.2 million jobs from February 2020.

Education gained 230,000 positions at the state and local government level, while manufacturing gained 15,000 and construction lost.

While the rising jobless rate can sometimes reflect more people rejoining the workforce, the report said the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6 percent.

Still, the figures showed the mixed record of the recovery as the ranks of the long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks or more – rebounded after declining in May.

But the number of job leavers – workers who quit their previous job and began looking for new employment – increased to 942,000, the report said.

This is seen as a sign that people feel more confident about their ability to find a new job. (AFP)