US adds 222,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate ticks up to 4.4%

US job creation rebounded in June while the unemployment rate ticked higher as more people entered the work force in search of jobs.
US job creation rebounded in June while the unemployment rate ticked higher as more people entered the work force in search of jobs. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US job creation rebounded in June while the unemployment rate ticked higher as more people entered the work force in search of jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The US economic engine created another 222,000 jobs in last month, while the jobless rate rose a tenth of a point to 4.4 per cent, according to the report.

The result far surpassed analyst forecasts for an increase of 173,000 new jobs, and was welcome news for the White House after several months in which other economic data suggested the world's largest economy could be starting to lose steam.

The jobs rebound also was sure to comfort Federal Reserve policymakers planning to hike benchmark interest rates later this year despite persistently weak inflation.

But with the gains in employment came another month of sluggish wage increases. Average hourly earnings rose four cents for the month to US$26.25 (S$36.28), up 0.2 per cent over May and 2.5 per cent higher than June of last year.

The labour force participation rate rose a tenth of a point to 62.8 per cent, a time when many US students and new college graduates began hunting for summer work. As more workers begin looking for jobs, that can push the unemployment rate higher.

Job gains were seen in healthcare, which added 37,000 new positions, financial services, which gained 17,000, and the mining sector, which gained 8,000 jobs amid a modest recovery in the oil and gas sector since last summer.