HOPES had risen in the past week that America’s economic soft patch was ending. They have just been doused with a bucket of cold water. The job market showed further deterioration in June from May, the government reported on Friday. The number of non-farm jobs rose a meager 18,000, lower even than May’s 25,000 number (itself revised down from the original estimate). The two months together mark a dramatic deceleration from the previous three when payroll growth averaged 215,000 per month.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose for the fourth consecutive month to 9.2%, from 9.1% in May. It was 8.8% in March. The economic recovery celebrated (if you could call it that) its second anniversary on July 1st, and in that time the unemployment rate has moved a lot while ending up almost exactly where it began. America has made almost no progress closing the output gap opened up by the recession. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up looking for jobs and part timers who want full time work, shot up to 16.2% from 15.8% and the average duration of unemployment hit a new high of 39.9 weeks. More women than men lost jobs. Indeed, since the recovery began, women have fared worse than men, a reversal of the pattern during the recession, as a new Pew study documents. Still, the male unemployment rate rose more last month than the female rate.