Jobs figures underscore work yet to do

By:  Dan Balz
The reaction to Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the latest example of a nation with lowered economic expectations.

On its face, the report offered good news. The economy added 195,000 jobs in June and beat the forecasters’ estimates. The private sector added 202,000 jobs, while governments — state, local and federal — cut back by just 7,000. The government also revised upward the jobs numbers for the two previous months.

Over the first half of the year, the economy has added 1.2 million jobs to the workforce, an average of about 200,000 a month. Over the past 12 months, 2.3 million jobs have been added.

That is steady progress — and only the latest evidence of an economic recovery that is moving forward month by month. It was greeted as such, taken as a sign that the Federal Reserve might begin to taper off its monetary stimulus for the economy early this fall.

But other numbers from Friday tell a less positive story. Despite the growth in jobs, the unemployment rate held steady at 7.6 percent, because more people were looking for work than in the previous month. And 332,000 people said they were working part-time because of economic conditions, rather than by choice. At the same time, long-term unemployment remains acute. Of the 11.8 million unemployed workers, more than 4.3 million have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

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