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A job seeker pauses as he fills out an application during a career fair in Concord, California.
No "surprise to the upside." The June jobs report is out from the Labor Department and the news isn't as good as many observers had hoped when some positive employment data came out yesterday. The U.S. added only 80,000 new private-sector jobs, well below the 176,000 that payroll processor ADP reported. The unemployment rate remains 8.2 percent.
Last month's gloomy 69,000 new-jobs figure was revised up slightly, to 77,000 (and April's numbers were revised down). But otherwise the words "unchanged" and "essentially unchanged" define the June report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We still have 12.7 million unemployed Americans and 5.4 million Americans — an alarming 42 percent of the total — who are classified as "long-term unemployed," or out of work for 27 weeks or more.
A 100,000-plus June report would have been welcome at this juncture, even though job creation at that level would be far below what the country needs for the recovery to pick up steam. For that to happen, we need to add 300-400,000 new jobs each month.
The economy continues to add jobs in several sectors, notably service and manufacturing, according to the BLS. In other areas it at least isn't shedding jobs. But for now, the overall story, for both California and the nation, continues to be a very weak economy that's growing just enough to stave off another recession but not enough to put people back to work in serious numbers.
This is the fourth straight month of sub-100,000 jobs growth. The Federal Reserve has so far been taking a wait-and-see approach to making additional moves to rev up the economy, a stance it affirmed at its Open Market Committee meetings a few weeks ago. With the economy performing this poorly, however, the demands for another round of so-called "quantitative easing" — a way of injecting money into the banking system to spur lending when interest rates are at or close to zero — are going to pick up.
I wrote yesterday that, given the country's weak growth, we'd be lucky to get 100,000 new jobs in June. We weren't so lucky.