June Unemployment Report Shows Anemic Job Growth

So much for the Obama Administration's "Summer of Recovery."

So far, the so-called “Summer of Recovery” isn’t looking very impressive:

The United States added just 83,000 private-sector jobs in June, a dishearteningly low number that could add to the growing number of economists who warn that the economic recovery is stalling.

Over all, the nation lost 125,000 jobs, according to the monthly snapshot of the job market released by the Labor Department on Friday. Most of the lost jobs came as temporary workers hired by the federal government to help with the census exited their jobs.

The unemployment rate, based on a different survey, declined to 9.5 percent in June from the previous 9.7 percent.

Just as last month’s government job report appeared deceptively robust, swollen as it was by 411,000 workers hired by the federal government to help with the census, so the June report appears deceptively anemic, as the government is shedding many of those same temporary census workers.

The median forecast from economists and economic forecasting firms was that the nation would add 110,000 private-sector jobs. The economy needs to add about 130,000 to 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with new workers entering the market. The labor pool is already packed with 15 million Americans looking for work.

The week or so leading up to Friday’s report offered a grim rat-a-tat-tat of statistics pointing to a slowing economy. Auto sales were off more than expected, as sales plunged 30 percent in May, a far greater drop than expected. And unemployment claims rose by 13,000 to 472,000, which is far higher than usual if one is looking for signs that private payrolls are growing in a sustained fashion.

Private job growth has risen every month this year. But that growth slowed to a worrisome trickle in May, as the economy created just 33,000 jobs that month, according to revised figures released Friday. By way of comparison, the economy has lost 7.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

The number of long-term unemployed, those Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more, remained at its highest peak since the Labor Department began collecting such data shortly after the Great Depression.

Creating 83,000, or even 100,000, jobs a month isn’t going to do very much to put those long-term unemployed back to work, obviously. While we may be lucky enough to avoid a double-dip recession, I think we may end up with a “recovery” that has incredibly weak job growth, which means that the next recession — whether it comes tomorrow or a year from now — will be even more painful.

Politically, this can’t be good news for the Democrats in November. Absent a massive explosion in job growth over the next few months, which seems unlikely, it’s fairly clear that unemployment will remain above 9% until Election Day. Once people start paying attention to the elections in September and October, it’s going to be the economy — and, probably, the Gulf Oil Spill — that will be on their minds, and a bad economy is bad news for the incumbent party.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    I was one of those pessimists worrying about a double dip from way back, but I think Barry Ritholtz might have convinced me that (so far at least) it is just a soft spot. Things change. Time will tell

  2. JRog says:

    But the economy is the President’s number one priority……….right?

  3. Gerry W. says:

    How do you create jobs, when you send jobs overseas?

    This is the same analogy as filling a bucket with a hole in it.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Still, something of an improvement over the amazing Bush job killing machine…

  5. john personna says:

    That’s the problem with socialists like you JRog. You think the government is the answer to every problem.

    (On the other end of the political spectrum, some might claim that without government interference there would never be recessions or depressions. Those people don’t know history. Look back to the Panic of 1797 for another real estate bubble, crash, and recession.)

  6. john personna says:

    The globalization has a two Party pedigree. It’s possible that if globalization is a long-term good, too fast a rate of change can be a short term bad.

  7. JRog says:

    Where did I say government was the answer to everything?

    You read your own meaning into that comment.

  8. john personna says:

    I expect you were playing a game, JRog, pretending that Obama was your answer, so that you complain that he wasn’t.

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    ****Creating 83,000, or even 100,000, jobs a month isn’t going to do very much to put those long-term unemployed back to work, obviously.*** ya double that when they are government jobs payed by taxes!

    ***Still, something of an improvement over the amazing Bush job killing machine…*** Good golly man, good golly……

  10. JRog says:

    Actually, John, I was commenting on the ineffectiveness of government in affecting change in the labor market despite what they perceive to be their best efforts. Maybe next time you should ask for a clarification before making assumptions.

  11. Herb says:

    “Politically, this can’t be good news for the Democrats in November. ”

    This sentence is dangerously close to being an overused, meaningless cliche. You know what else can’t be good news for Democrats in November? The end of October….

    I mean, I don’t disagree with your point. Of course, the incumbent party is going to suffer if things aren’t better. That’s the way it goes. I have no doubt that Republicans will be more than happy to hang this around the Democrats neck come November.

    But in the meantime, what are they going to do about unemployment? What are their big ideas? It seems like they’re counting on winning by default, which they probably will, but then what about December?

  12. john personna says:
  13. Gerry W. says:

    Good write up on Andy Grove.

    Here is my list in what we need to do to create jobs and have a better economy.

    If you want the government to get serious on employment then they have to do the following:

    1. Fix the antitrust laws that Reagan relaxed. Monopolies and consolidations destroyed jobs.


    2. Invest in your country: That is energy independence for security and jobs. Also a new air traffic control system that will save 12% on fuel. The savings to the airlines can go to build new aircraft. A high speed internet system. Perhaps high speed rail.

    3. Invest in your people: That is mandatory vocational training. We live in a globalized world and you can no longer rely on factories. We have to be an educated society.

    4. Invest in the future: Federal research grants to be given to universities and business to bring out new technologies. Today there are no new jobs to go to for those unemployed. You need new areas of growth. No playing games with embryonic stem cell research.


    5. Consider an “American job elimination tax” on companies that move out of the country. These companies do not pay middle class wages, healthcare, pensions, social security, or city and state taxes.

    6. Get away from failed ideology. We saw it for 8 years. Tax cuts do not solve problems. Does not prevent recessions. And does not create prosperity. You still have to solve problems. Ideology does not solve problems.

    7. Supporting small business sounds nice and it is heard in Washington, but it does not work in my community as the big business left. That means you cannot have small business as people lost their jobs. Besides, small business will never pay what big business paid in wages.

    8. We are losing the middle class. We cannot compete with 2 billion cheap laborers in the world that want our jobs. There are not enough jobs to go around. Competition is good, but it can be harmful also. All we are doing in this country is build the same business environment so that we can knock the other guy out. A person loses his job and has no place to go to. And the reason is that we did not invest in our country, in our people, and in the future.

    9. Have commissions to cut government spending. It seems to be the only approach to doing this. Obviously, one side or the other will complain, but something has to be done now.

    10. Government appointed jobs and organizations need to be slimmed down. Every 50 to 60 years we need to go through this. There are too many secretaries, deputy-secretaries, under-secretaries, and under-under-secretaries. Information gets loss through the process and government becomes ineffective. The last time this was done was with the Hoover Commission in the late 40’s.

    11. Pour money into new drugs and preliminary medical science. Drugs are becoming less resistant to diseases. And potential super bugs are coming.

    Doing the above 11 steps, you will have a slimmed down and more effective government. You will create jobs, save the middle class, and save the country.

  14. john personna says:

    I think we have two choices, a light tax on each shipping container landed in the US, or an abolishment of the minimum wage. Those are the only things that will reduce the inducement to transfer production to Foxconn.

    If we can’ t do those things politically (because conservatives will oppose the tariff, and liberals will defend the minimum wage) then we are locked in a decline. That decline will last just as long as it takes for China (etc.) to hit prevailing US wage levels.

    I don’t think “industrial policy” can overcome this global wage dynamic.