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The US labor market rebounds in June, adding far more jobs than expected

In the latest snapshot of the US economy, government data out on Friday showed that hiring rebounded in June and that wage growth accelerated at a slower rate than expected.

The Labor Department said the US added 224,000 nonfarm payrolls last month, a healthy recovery from a surprisingly weak reading of 72,000 jobs in May. Economists had expected a gain of about 164,000. 

“The jobs growth number this month is comforting after a few months of uncertainty,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist at Indeed, a career site. “While job growth may be slowing down from its astonishing rate last year, it’s reassuring that the economy is still creating jobs at a reasonable pace.”

The unemployment rate ticked higher to 3.7%, holding near historic lows. Average hourly earnings rose 3.1% from a year earlier, slightly slower than economists had forecast. 

“Payroll growth at this pace, or anything like it, will continue to push the unemployment rate down over time,” said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “The increase in the June unemployment rate, and the accompanying one tenth increase in the participation rate, are not statistically significant.”

The results were likely to assuage fears that the expansion, which became the longest on record last week, was running out of steam. Even with the economy expected to slow in the coming months, the rebound suggested that the May dip in nonfarm payrolls was more of a fluke than the start of a downward trend.