After sputtering in May, the nations job-creation machine fired back up last month in a reassuring sign that the economy is not faltering despite the increased risks in the global economy.
The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 287,000 jobs in June, the most since last October. That followed revised gains of 11,000 in May and 144,000 in April.
The nations unemployment rate edged up to 4.9 percent in June, from 4.7 percent, as people feeling more confident about their prospects returned to the job market. The labor force swelled by 414,000 last month, reversing a similar-sized decline in May.
The average pay of all private-sector workers rose just 2 cents an hour, to $25.61. But wages appear to be increasing gradually; they were up 2.6 percent from a year ago, compared with an annual average of about 2 percent during most of the recovery. Separate data suggest job openings are ample but that employers are increasingly having trouble finding qualified workers.
Fridays jobs report will bolster confidence that the recovery from the Great Recession, now entering its eight year, still has some legs. But there were some soft spots in the report.
Construction employment was flat last month, as was manufacturing, with the exception of food processing. And the pace of hiring in the sprawling professional and business services category which has many high- and low-paying jobs has slowed considerably this year.
Job growth last month came mostly from retailers, healthcare and social assistance providers, and the large restaurant and recreation industry. The June job numbers were also inflated by the return of some 35,000 Verizon workers who were on strike the previous month.
Even as the latest report was encouraging, economic indicators have been mixed, and uncertainties in the outlook have risen after Britains vote June 23 to leave the European Union. The June employment survey was taken before that vote.
With the latest statistics, U.S. job growth averaged 147,000 a month in the second quarter. That compares with average monthly gains of 196,000 in the first three months of this year and 229,000 in 2015.