BLS: Employed Up 67,000 in June; Unemployed Up 347,000

Susan Jones | July 8, 2016 | 6:59am EDT
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The U.S. Department of Labor in Washington. (AP File Photo)

( - The civilian labor force expanded in June, adding 414,000 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The number of employed people increased by 67,000 to 151,097,000 in June, but the number of unemployed people increased even more, by 347,000 to 7,783,000.

The unemployment rate ticked up two-tenths of a point to 4.9 percent.

BLS said 94,517,000 Americans were not in the labor force in June, a slight improvement from May's record 94,708,000; and after dropping for three straight months, the labor force participation rate increased a tenth of a point to 62.7 percent in June.

In September 2015, the labor force participation rate hit 62.4 percent, its lowest point since 1977. So the June participation rate was only three-tenths of a point off its record low.

The economy added 287,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department said, a rebound from the extremely weak 11,000 (revised from 38,000) jobs added in May and the revised 144,000 jobs added in April.

In June, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 253,397,000. Of those, 158,880,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 158,880,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 62.7 percent of the 253,397,000 civilian noninstitutional population.

Last month, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress the Fed is keeping a close eye on the labor force participation rate. She said she expects that rate to "continue declining in the coming years because we have an aging population."

As baby-boomers retire, "they work less," she noted, even though younger people "participate more."

People who have not actively looked for work in the previous month are not counted as participating in the labor force. Yellen told Congress that "a sign of a strengthening labor market is to see people who were discouraged brought back into the labor force."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 5,692,000 people in June as "persons who currently want a job," down from the 5,923,000 in May.

Yellen was asked last month why workers are not being hired for those millions of available jobs:

"There are an enormous number of job openings, and there is a certain degree of mismatch of workers who are looking for work with the job openings that are available," Yellen said.

She pointed to the shift from unskilled workers to the demand for skilled labor. "The consequence of that has been rising inequality, a high return to education and downward pressure on the wages of those who are less skilled and middle income."

Yellen stressed the need for "education and training, perhaps apprenticeships of the type that are used in some European and other countries -- these are ideas that really have to be considered" to boost wages and incomes, she said.

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