The U.S. labor market is beginning to show some signs of slowing down, a key economic report revealed Friday, bringing some hope to Wall Street as it prepares for a longer period of elevated interest rates than initially hoped.
The U.S. economy added 209,00 jobs last month, according to Labor Department data released Friday morning, coming far short of economist estimates of 240,000 and declining from May’s 339,000 jobs added.
That’s the least amount of jobs added in a month since December 2020.
The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 3.6%, meeting estimates of 3.6%.
There’s “nothing in the release that would change our expectation that the Fed has more work to do,” Vanguard economists Joseph H. Davis and Andrew Patterson wrote in emailed comments.
Stocks were flat immediately after the report’s release, following major losses Thursday as investors grew increasingly concerned about the labor market.
Friday’s jobs report came a day after ADP revealed the private sector added more than twice as many jobs as forecasted last month. The elevated attention toward job growth and unemployment comes as the Fed bumps interest rates to their highest level in decades to combat inflation. Historically, inflation and unemployment have an inverse relationship, so many investors hope to see unemployment rise in the near-term, as counterintuitive as that may seem.
Average hourly wages of private employees rose 0.4% to $33.58, up 4.4% year-over-year.Wages are up 14% since June 2020, compared to an 18% rise in consumer prices over the period. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has frequently cited wages growing at a slower pace than inflation as a primary reason behind his tightening campaign.
“You wouldn’t always guess it when looking at the performance of stocks but there is mounting anxiety about the resilience of the economy and what that will mean for interest rates going into the end of this year and 2024,” Oanda analyst Craig Erlam wrote in a Friday note to clients.
Labor Market Slowdown: 1.6 Million New Jobs In 2023—But Millions At Risk As These Industries Struggle Most (Forbes)
Are Layoffs Slowing Down? Job Cuts Hit 7-Month Low (Forbes)
Does The Fed Want You To Lose Your Job? It’s Complicated. (Forbes)