The Department of Labor said U.S. job growth surged last month as employers increased hours for workers and the labor market showed increased signs of strength.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 222,000 jobs, the DoL said. Revised data for April and May showed 47,000 more jobs created than previously reported. The news could keep the Federal Reserve on track to increase interest rates for the third time this year, despite low inflation, Reuters reports.
In a written statement, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta called the job creation numbers “robust.”
The average work week increased to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in May. Meanwhile, an uptick in the unemployment rate—from 4.3% to 4.4%—was the result of more people looking for work. June wages rose 2.5% compared with a year ago, but analysts had estimated an increase in hourly earnings that was slightly higher, 2.6%. In an economy that is growing robustly, wage growth is typically about 3.5%.
According to the data, underemployment also remains something of an issue. Under a broader definition that includes people who want to work but have given up looking, or people working part-time jobs because they can’t find full-time work, the unemployment rate was 8.6% last month, up from 8.4% in May.
“What’s not to like in this report?” Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, told CNN. “This is what you want to see.”
Notable sectors adding workers in June included health-care companies, which added 37,000 jobs; government employers, which added 35,000 jobs; construction firms, which added 16,000 jobs; and retailers, which added 8,100 jobs. The automobile sector, on the other hand, lost 1,300 jobs.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted an increase of about 170,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 4.3%. To keep pace with population growth, the U.S. economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month.
On Thursday, the National Federation of Independent Business released a report that found hiring by small businesses declined in June.
“After last month’s surge in jobs activity, small-business owners seem to be in a holding pattern while they wait to see what Congress will do with taxes and healthcare,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said.