The US economy gained 287,000 jobs in June, the strongest monthly result of 2016. The unexpectedly strong result helps put to rest fears of the US economy tipping into recession — a recession that would have been bad for Hillary Clinton’s chances of capturing the White House in November.
In recent years, the economy has gained about 200,000 jobs in a typical month. That’s more than enough to keep up with population growth, which is why the unemployment rate has been gradually declining over the past few years.
But last month, economists got a nasty surprise: The economy gained only 38,000 jobs, far below the level needed to absorb new workers. That created fears that the economy was falling into recession.
But now it looks like those fears are unfounded, as the latest number shows robust job growth:
The weak job numbers in May likely contributed to the Federal Reserve’s June decision to delay further interest rate hikes in an effort to boost the economy. And supporters of Hillary Clinton worried that a weak economy would help Donald Trump in his bid for the White House, since the party in power tends to do better when the economy performs well.
However, a single month of bad jobs data can simply be statistical noise — and that appears to have been the explanation for May’s poor results. In today’s release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually revised the May figure down further to 11,000 jobs. But the strong June result suggests that May’s numbers weren’t the start of a larger trend.
The latest report also includes some other moderately good news. Workers’ wages grew at a respectable 2.6 percent over the past year — slightly better than the rate of inflation:
The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent. But this isn’t necessarily a bad sign, as it partly reflects workers who had previously left the labor force being lured back into job seeking by the relatively strong economic recovery.