June Jobs Report: Manufacturing Is a Bright Spot on Hopes of a Trade Truce

United States employers added a robust 224,000 jobs in June, easing worries of a weakening labor market after May’s unexpected slowdown.

The Labor Department’s figures trumped the 165,000 that analysts had expected, while the unemployment rate edged slightly higher at 3.7% — still close to a 50-year low. It comes a month after American businesses posted a disappointing 75,000 new jobs, which was revised even lower to 72,000.

Last month, average hourly earnings climbed 3.1% from a year earlier, and the labor force participation rate remained steady at 62.9%.

Job growth was strong once again in the industries of professional and business services and health care as well as transportation and warehousing.

Retailers continued to cut jobs with a 5,800 loss, as they shoulder ongoing pressures from increasing wages in a tightening labor market. Nearly all categories in the sector saw declines but decreases were particularly steep in clothing and clothing accessories stores, general merchandise stores and non-store retailers. Separately, sporting goods and other stores noted a gain of 3,700 jobs.

A brighter note was the manufacturing sector, which tacked on 17,000 jobs in June following four consecutive months of little change — a promising sign for economists concerned over trade war uncertainties. (So far in 2019, job creation in the industry has averaged 8,000 per month, compared with the 22,000 last year.)

The report comes as the U.S. and China agreed to return to the negotiating table in an effort to resolve their yearlong tit-for-tat tariff dispute. Late in June, President Donald Trump suspended his threatened hike on the fourth tranche of levies that would impact footwear, apparel and more accessories.

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