Although Friday's closely watched June jobs report missed expectations, many analysts are looking on the bright side: Income and hours worked both rose and the country's job market is still growing, despite global turmoil.
Only 80,000 jobs were added last month, below a Reuters forecast of 90,000. But the average workweek for private, non-farm employees rose slightly by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours in June, and average hourly earnings was up by 6 cents or 0.3 percent to $23.50, a gain that Morgan Stanley analyst David Greenlaw called a solid rise.
In addition, the food and services/drinking places category posted a 15,000 payroll increase; temporary employment, which tends to lead permanent hiring, rose by 25,000, up from 19,000 in May and the alternative household measure of employment increased by 128,000.
The upside surprises across the workweek, hours-worked, hourly earnings, and labor force data raised our estimates for the remaining June reports despite the headline payroll disappointment. The report on net was better than assumed, though the payroll growth path remains anemic, wrote Mike Englund, chief economist of Denver-based Action Economics LLC, in a Friday note.
Job growth in the second quarter fell to a monthly average of 775,000 jobs, down from 226,000 jobs in the first quarter. Despite the slowdown, another recession is unlikely and the Federal Reserve still isn't expected to enact QE3, according to analysts. In contrast to the Labor Department report, ADP reported Thursday that private companies hired 176,000 employees, beating expectations. Small and mid-sized companies accounted for 94 percent of the growth, with service sectors accounting for 16,000 jobs.
Although it is very clear that the U.S. economy has lost a lot of momentum, there are no real indications that it will soon come to a complete standstill or even go into reverse, wrote Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales of Capital Economics Ltd. in a Friday note. The latest ISM surveys and various leading indicators are certainly consistent with slower economic growth, but they are not pointing to a period of negative growth.
Despite the silver lining noticed by analysts, the big picture is hardly cause for euphoria.
The report seemed to reinforce the notion that the loss of momentum in employment growth seen over the course of recent months represents more than just a weather-related payback, wrote David Greenlaw, an analyst with Morgan Stanley. This report was probably not weak enough to trigger QE3 at the August 1 FOMC announcement, but there is likely to be a serious discussion of policy options aimed at dealing with an economy that is no longer making progress toward reducing unemployment.