J: On July 6 the BLS gave us a ton of interesting data on "The Employment Situation-June 2018." For a start, they reported that the total number of people employed last month was a record 155,576,000. This is an increase from a year earlier of 2,326,000 people employed, or 1.5 percent. This happy outcome is shown in the chart below.
For those people worrying that we could not possibly get enough people to re-enter the labor force to fill all the vacant job openings, the report showed some 601,000 people joined the labor force in June. In an editorial entitled, "Workers Emerge from the Woodwork," The Wall Street Journal called this fact "the big news" from the BLS report.
The unemployment rate rose from 3.7 percent in May to 4.0 percent in June because total employment only increased by 102,000 people in June. The total number of unemployed people in June was 6,564,000. That was up 499,000 people or 8.2 percent from May.
All of the total employment and unemployment data came from the surveys of households conducted by the Census Bureau for the BLS. The separate survey of employers also had many interesting results.
As the following chart shows, there were a record 148,912,000 payroll jobs in June. Even more interesting and amazing is that every month beginning in October 2010 has posted a new high. June marked an unprecedented 93rd consecutive new peak for this widely-followed economic indicator.
Many analysts like to focus on the average hourly earnings of all employees in the private sector. There were 126,571,000 of these jobs in June and their average hourly wage was a record $26.98, up $0.72 or 2.7 percent from June 2016. The average weekly earnings were $930.81.
The chart below shows that these earnings rise steadily over time. The fact that they kept rising through the recession of December 2007-June 2009 may seem puzzling given the huge decrease in the number of these jobs--as show on the preceding chart. If you stop to think that only employed people have earnings, then the puzzle is resolved.
The US economy continues to be an amazing jobs machine. There is no reason to believe that will stop anytime soon. This means we'll see many new records for both total employment and the number of nonfarm payroll jobs.