Job growth heats up, but full employment far away

My column on today’s jobs number is up at Outside the Box – MarketWatch:

Today’s new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a labor market continuing along a path to recovery. The BLS reports that the U.S. economy added 195,000 new jobs in June and the unemployment rate stayed at 7.6%.

What’s more, upward revisions to the prior two months’ data show that U.S. employment is 70,000 jobs higher than previously reported. The private sector has added an average of 206,000 jobs per month this year, while the federal government has shed an average of 7,600 jobs per month, dragging down employment.

Even as employers added jobs, however, the share of the U.S. population at work didn’t rise above 58.7%, continuing to stay within the same small band it’s been contained in since September 2009 — between 58.2% and 58.7%. This is nowhere near the height in 2006 and 2007 of more than 63% of the population having a job, let alone the more than 64% employed in 2000.

And many of those who gained jobs took part-time jobs: The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons, as opposed to voluntarily choosing to work part-time for personal reasons, rose by 322,000 in June.

Moreover, June’s job gains didn’t even keep up with the growth in the number of people willing and able to work: The labor force grew by 177,000 people in June, while the number employed grew by 160,000. Given this, it’s hard to believe that our work pushing the economy toward full employment is anywhere close to done.

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