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US Job Gains Again Surpass Outlook in June


The U.S. economy exceeded expectations again, adding 195,000 jobs in June. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said companies also hired more workers in April and May than originally reported - meaning the economy has now added more than 200,000 jobs per month since the start of the year. But despite the steady job growth, the nation’s unemployment rate remains high.

The retail and hospitality industry saw the biggest job gains last month, followed by health care and professional services. But while the pace of job growth has been steady - economic blogger Chris Martenson says many of the new jobs involve part time work.

Martenson runs Peakprosperity.com. He spoke to VOA via Skype.

“Honestly, I want to see the part-time numbers falling, I want to see hours per week climbing, I want to see average hourly, weekly earnings climbing much faster than they currently are for me to say - yeah, this is good,” he said.

Despite better than expected job numbers, the nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.6 percent as more Americans resumed their job search. Martenson said stubbornly high unemployment means the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing is likely to stay - at least for now.

“The unemployment rate from the household data - that didn’t change. So guess what? QE [efforts to stimulate the economy] gets to continue, because the Fed has linked cessation of QE to change in this [unemployment] number," said Martenson.

The Federal Reserve has been buying $85 billion in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities every month in an effort to keep long term interest rates low. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the central bank could start reducing its purchases as the jobless rate declines.

Some say that could happen sooner rather than later.

On Skype, finance expert James Blake said that job growth is likely to pick up in the second half of the year.

“I think there’s a lot of positive signs in the economy going forward. Will it become robust? Not in the near term, but I think some steady moderate growth we will see,” said Blake.

Many businesses remain cautious. The report shows further job losses in manufacturing and government. And despite a steadily improving job market, the Labor Department says 11.8 million Americans are still unemployed - virtually unchanged since February.
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