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U.S. Added 288,000 Jobs In June, Labor Department Says

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Analysts' expectations of continued growth in the jobs report for June were surpassed by federal data issued this morning, as the Labor Department says U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs last month. The government released the numbers one day early because of the July 4 holiday.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET: 288,000 Jobs Added

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent," the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

This is the fifth consecutive month that American employers have added more than 200,000 jobs.

"Job gains were widespread," the agency said, "led by employment growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and health care."

Our original post continues:

Last month, the U.S. job market hit a milestone, finally surpassing pre-recession levels by gaining 217,000 jobs in May, the government said.

Experts' estimates for today's report ranged from 215,000 jobs to 230,000. Stock markets have been rising on optimism ahead of the report.

"The payroll processing firm ADP said yesterday that private employers added 281,000 jobs in June — a 2 1/2-year high," NPR's Jim Zarroli reports for today's Morning Edition. "The National Federation of Independent Businesses said hiring by small businesses increased for a ninth straight month."

Those gains raise another important question: Where are the jobs?

Most of the growth in the ADP report was in small and medium-size businesses, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

"Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees posted the biggest gains in employment in nearly 2 1/2 years," she said in a report for our Newscast unit. "And the hiring is happening across many different sectors, a sign that the broader economy is getting a boost after the slow winter. The construction and financial services industries doubled their hiring over the previous month."

But the job growth hasn't been evenly distributed to all areas. The AP finds that "32 states still have fewer jobs than when the recession began in December 2007." (You can see how each state is doing in one NPR graph.)

That finding is likely what Dianne Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, is talking about when she tells Jim Zarroli analysts want to see proof of "real healing" rather than a statistical bump that helps a limited number of people.

"What we'd like to see is some real fundamental healing," Swonk says, "and we've gotten some — but we are a long way from having the tide lift all boats. In fact, some boats have sunk to the bottom."

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