published Friday, July 6th, 2012

US employers add 80,000 jobs as economy struggles

  • photo
    In this Monday, June 18, 2012 photo Trey Fortes, right, speaks with Jason Monteiro, of Hudson, Mass., left, during a job fair in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent.

The economy has added just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. Job creation is also trailing last year's pace through the first six months of 2012.

Stock futures fell modestly after the report came out. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 24 points before the report at 8:30 a.m., and were down 60 points minutes later.

Yields for government bonds sank, an indication that investors were putting money into the Treasury market. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was 1.59 percent just before the report and 1.57 percent after it came out.

A weaker job market has made consumers less confident. They have pulled back on spending, even though gas prices have plunged.

High unemployment could shift momentum to Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. An Associated Press-GfK poll released last month found that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy.

Dismal June job figures could also prompt the Federal Reserve to take further action to try to boost the economy. The Fed last month downgraded its economic outlook for 2012. It predicted growth of just 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent for the year and little change in the unemployment rate.

Job gains in April and May were little changed from the department's previous estimates.

There were some good signs in the report. The average work week grew to 34.5 hours from 34.4 in May, boosting many workers' paychecks. And average hourly wages rose 6 cents to $23.50. Hourly pay has increased 2 percent in the past year and is ahead of inflation, which has fallen in recent months along with gas prices.

About one-third of the jobs gained in June were in temporary services. Manufacturing added 11,000, its ninth straight month of gains. But growth in factory jobs slowed sharply in the second quarter compared to the first. Health care added 13,000 jobs and financial services gained 5,000. Retailers, transportation firms and government cut jobs.

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