Pace of Job Growth Slows in June, Government Reports

June’s payroll increase was the tenth straight month of gains, but payrolls figures for April and May were revised down slightly from the large increases previously reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

April’s new job totals were revised to 324,000 from 346,000 and May’s numbers were changed to 235,000 from 248,000. There were 353,000 new jobs created in March.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said Friday factory orders dipped in May. The 0.3 percent drop came after a 1.1 percent decline in April as demand for cars and other big-ticket goods decreased.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the manufacturing sector lost 11,000 jobs in June, a reversal after four straight months in which factories added jobs after years of decline.

The overall civilian unemployment rate has stayed at 5.6 percent for most of 2004, as people re-enter the labor force.

The government also reported that the average work week decreased in May to 33.6 hours from 33.8, the shortest since December.

Not surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats were quick to respond to the new economic numbers.

“We’re witnessing steady growth, steady growth,” President Bush said in the speech at the White House. “We don’t need boom-or-bust type growth. We want just steady, consistent growth so our fellow citizens will be able to find a job.”

Democrats claimed the new jobs numbers showed the Bush administration was not doing enough to improve the labor market.

“The president has the worst record of job creation since the Great Depression, and his policies have instigated record budget deficits and exploding debt that will haunt us for a generation to come,” said Steny Hoyer, Democratic whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, some economists predicted that the new numbers mean the Federal Reserve will not become more aggressive raising interest rates to keep high inflation at bay.

“This pace of job creation shows there is still slack in the labor markets. The bottom line is that this is the type of number that will allow the Fed to continue its tightening at a measured pace,” Alex Beuzelin, a foreign exchange market analyst with Ruesch International in Washington, told Reuters.