The US economy added 288,000 jobs in June, latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics have shown. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1%, its lowest level since September 2008. That figure beat analysts' expectations and is an encouraging sign after disappointing growth in the first quarter of 2014.The strong report sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 17,000 for the first time as investors cheered the news.
Economists blamed harsh winter weather for a 2.9% annualised decline in US economic output from January to March. Jobs growth in professional and business services was particularly strong, with 67,000 jobs being created, followed by gains in the retail sector, which added 40,000 jobs. Hourly wages - which is a measure watched closely by policy makers and has been recently highlight by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen - rose 0.2% in June and have climbed 2.0% for the year.
"There really isn't anything to be disappointed with," wrote Jefferies bank economists in a note to clients, noting that manufacturing jobs growth was particularly strong.
"There was a 0.2% dip in the unemployment rate based on "good reasons" and household employment was up strongly," they added.
One "good reason" was that unlike in past reports, where the unemployment rate has dipped primarily because many Americans had given up looking for work, the June decline seems to be mostly due to actual jobs growth.
The labour force participation rate remained steady at 62.8%, indicating that decline was not due to discouraged workers. However, long-term unemployment remains an ongoing concern. The number of US job-seekers who have been out of work for over 27 weeks decreased by 293,000 in June, to 3.1 million people - around a third of those who are out of work. "Long-term unemployment remain[s] elevated, which [is] a key concern for Janet Yellen," said Aberdeen Asset Management's Luke Bartholomew.
"The big question for the US remains just how many of the long term unemployed will ever get back into work."