8.2% unemployment rate unchanged in June

8.2% unemployment rate unchanged in June

WASHINGTON – The employment market remained in a spring slump in June as employers added 80,000 jobs.

  • Maria Wilt, center, talks to a recruiter at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2012.

    Jae C. Hong, AP

    Maria Wilt, center, talks to a recruiter at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2012.

Jae C. Hong, AP

Maria Wilt, center, talks to a recruiter at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2012.

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The nation’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2% for the second consecutive month, the Labor Department said Friday.

Businesses added 47,000 jobs, while governments left their payrolls unchanged.

A consensus of economists had estimated that payrolls grew by 95,000 jobs last month, including 103,000 in the private sector.

The economy has added just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That’s one-third of 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. Job creation is also trailing last year’s pace through the first six months of 2012.

Stock futures fell modestly after the report came out. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 24 points before the report at 8:30 a.m., and were down 60 points minutes later.

Payrolls

Yields for government bonds sank, an indication that investors were putting money into the Treasury market. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was 1.59 percent just before the report and 1.57 percent after it came out.

A weaker job market has made consumers less confident. They have pulled back on spending, even though gas prices have plunged.

High unemployment could shift momentum to Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. An Associated Press-GfK poll released last month found that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of President Barack Obama‘s handling of the economy.

Several reports on the labor market Thursday seemed to brighten the outlook, especially the ADP survey that showed substantially higher private-sector job gains in June than the previous two months.

Chris Jones of TD Economics says Friday’s government report could be pivotal in helping the Federal Reserve decide on Aug. 1 whether to buy more securities to lower long-term interest rates and stimulate the economy.

Job growth of less than 100,000 a month, he says, likely would increase the chances of additional Fed stimulus, especially since economic indicators increasingly show inflation is not a concern.

The report also could help determine President Obama‘s reelection chances because voters’ perception of the economy tend to take shape in the summer.

Monthly job growth averaged 252,000 from December through February, raising hopes that a sputtering job market was finally picking up steam. But job gains slowed to a sub-100,000 monthly pace from March through May.

Some economists have attributed the slowdown to warm winter weather that drew construction and manufacturing activity into January and February, but dampened spring hiring. That payback effect is largely over, Jones says.

Still, the economy faces other hurdles. In June, the manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in three years and retail sales were weak, reports this week showed. And the European Central Bank cut interest rates Thursday, underlining that the continent’s economy will remain sluggish for some times despite recent signs that officials are prepared to prevent the debt crisis from worsening. That, along with the prospect of higher taxes and reduced government spending in the U.S., has created uncertainy among businesses.

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