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US economy adds 206K jobs in June

The U.S. economy added 206,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.1 percent, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

The latest jobs numbers are are largely in line with expectations that the economy would add 190,000 jobs and maintain a jobless rate of 4 percent. 

The report follows blockbuster May numbers in which saw 272,000 jobs were created, but the unemployment rate’s longest sub-4 percent streak since the 1960s came to an end, as it ticked up slightly from 3.9 to 4 percent.

The Labor Department on Friday revised May’s job gain down to 218,000 and April’s job gain down to 108,000, meaning the economy added 111,000 fewer jobs than first reported.

“The downward revisions to the previous two months is consistent with an economic slowdown,” said Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for LPL Financial.

“We should expect more rhetoric out of the Fed about labor market conditions and the importance of keeping policy appropriate for their dual mandate,” he added.

The labor market has remained surprisingly resilient as the Federal Reserve maintains two-decade high interest rates as part of its effort to bring inflation back down to target.  

After peaking at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June 2022, inflation has cooled significantly, falling to 3.3 percent as of May. However, it remains stubbornly higher than the central bank would like, dashing hopes of imminent rate cuts.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has maintained in recent months that the Fed needs to see better inflation readings before beginning to ease interest rates from their current range of between 5.25 percent and 5.5 percent. 

“We want to be more confident that inflation is moving sustainably down toward 2 percent before we start the process of reducing how tight our policy is, of loosening policy,” he said Tuesday at an event in Portugal.

About two-thirds of traders now expect the first rate cut to come at the Fed’s September meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Experts from LH Meyer/Monetary Policy Analytics also suggested that the “dual mandate is back.”

“Inflation is slowing enough that the labor market side can come into play,” they said. “And the softening in the labor market is steady enough it would seem that the [Federal Open Market Committee] will start to get worried the economy is tipping into the ‘unexpected weakening’ that could prompt a start to easing.”

The state of the economy has been frequent thorn in President Biden’s side, as he prepares to face off against former President Trump in November’s election.

Despite significant improvements in inflation, a remarkably strong labor market and the lack of a once widely predicted recession, Americans’ views on the economy have remained gloomier than expected.

Biden’s shaky debate performance last week sent shock waves through the Democratic Party, leaving some questioning whether he should drop out of the race.

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