The rebound in the U.S. labor market accelerated in June as the economy reopened more broadly, though filings for unemployment benefits remained elevated last week as coronavirus cases picked up.
Payrolls rose by 4.8 million in June after an upwardly revised 2.7 million gain in the prior month, according to a Labor Department report Thursday. The unemployment rate fell for a second month, by 2.2 percentage points to 11.1%, still far above the pre-pandemic half-century low of 3.5%.
The June jobs report, reflecting a snapshot of midmonth conditions, encapsulates a flurry of rehiring — particularly at restaurants and retailers — after states lifted stay-at-home orders and began the process of reopening their economies during the pandemic, though those plans are screeching to a halt now. Adding to the job gains in coming months may be critical to President Donald Trump's reelection chances, as well as to the extension of a U.S. stock-market rally following the best quarter since 1998.
U.S. stock futures extended gains following the data. Treasuries and the dollar fell.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial applications for unemployment insurance in regular state programs fell by less than expected, to 1.43 million, in the week ended June 27. Continuing claims — or claims for ongoing unemployment benefits in state programs — rose slightly to 19.3 million in the week ended June 20.