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222,000 Jobs Added To U.S. Payrolls In June; Unemployment Rate Rises To 4.4 Percent

Part of the gains in the U.S. job market last month came in health care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Here, a nurse screens a patient in Emporia, Va.

An estimated 222,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in June, according to the monthly employment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

"The job gains were better than expected — most economists had predicted a gain of 180,000 jobs," NPR's Chris Arnold reports for our Newscast unit.

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent — a 16-year low that was hit in May.

"Since January, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed are down by 0.4 percentage point and 658,000, respectively," the BLS says.

Previous estimates of job gains in recent months were revised upwards — from 138,000 to 152,000 in May and from 174,000 to 207,000 in June, for a net gain of 47,000.

"In June, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.25. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent," the Labor Department says.

As the wage growth tracker from the Atlanta Federal Reserve shows, the last time hourly pay increased by more than 4 percent was in 2008. Consistently slow wage growth is threatening to distract attention from the overall positive results, analysts say.

"Once again, the buzz kill on the jobs report is the lack of more substantial wage growth," says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. "This suggests that we've not yet checked off the 'full employment' box, meaning more progress can be extracted from the job market. More than 5 million Americans still work part time who'd like to have full-time work."

The agency singled out health care, social assistance, financial activities and mining as sectors where jobs were added.

With the new gains, an average of 194,000 jobs have been gained in each of the past three months. So far in 2017, the monthly average is 180,000, compared to an average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016, the Labor Department agency says.

Two resilient sectors continued their upward trend in June, with professional and business services adding 35,000 jobs — and 624,000 over the past 12 months — and the food and drink service industry adding 29,000 jobs, with 277,000 over the past year.

Employment in mining grew by 8,000 jobs, the BLS says, attributing most of those gains to support activities.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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