An increase in June payrolls followed smaller gains in the prior two months and wages were little changed as U.S. job market reflected a more moderate pace of economic growth.
The addition of 223,000 jobs followed a 254,000 increase in the prior month that was less than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent as more people left the labor force.
The figures indicate corporate managers are confident they can temper hiring and meet demand against a backdrop of stronger consumer spending and feeble overseas markets. At the same time, more moderate job gains may still be enough to reduce the unemployment rate, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s perceived timetable to raise borrowing costs by year-end.
“One month’s low number wouldn’t shake our optimism,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “The job market still has a ways to go but we’re making progress.”
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 233,000 advance. Estimates of 97 ranged from gains of 160,000 to 350,000 after a previously reported 280,000 advance for May. Revisions to prior reports subtracted a total of 60,000 jobs from payrolls in the previous two months.
The economy has just completed its sixth year of expansion since the recession ended in June 2009. While the job market has rebounded, faster wage growth has been slow to follow suit.