Employers added more workers than projected in June and the unemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent, underscoring a brighter U.S. labor market that will help spur the economy.
The addition of 288,000 jobs followed a 224,000 gain the prior month that was bigger than previously estimated, Labor Department figures showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 215,000 advance. The jobless rate is the lowest since September 2008. The number of long-term unemployed fell to 3.1 million, showing they’re having greater success finding work.
A rebound in the economy after a first-quarter slump is encouraging companies such as Ford Motor Co. to add to staffing levels, laying the groundwork for a pickup in wages needed to further propel consumer spending. More employment opportunities will probably keep Federal Reserve policy makers on the path to gradually reduce monetary stimulus.
“The labor market kicked into a higher gear in the second quarter,” Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jeffries LLC in New York, said before the report. “You really have to look at the post-first-quarter data, and that’s looking pretty good. Even housing is showing improvement.”
Factories took on the most workers in four months, while payrolls at private service providers climbed by the most since October 2012.
The number of people out of work for 27 weeks or longer - the so-called long-term unemployed - decreased as a percentage of all jobless to 32.8 percent, the lowest since June 2009.
Payroll estimates of 94 economists in the Bloomberg survey ranged from gains of 145,000 to 290,000 after a previously reported 217,000 advance. The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate Labor Department survey of households, was projected to hold at 6.3 percent, according to the survey median.
Revisions to prior reports added a total of 29,000 jobs to overall payrolls in the previous two months.