WASHINGTON - The June jobs report shows the U.S. economy moving steadily closer to full health, after having shrunk at the start of the year.
The Labor Department reports employers added 288,000 jobs last month, far more than economists had been expecting. It also revised the job gains for April and May upward. The gains were widespread, with only construction still appearing slow. Over the past 12 months, the economy has added nearly 2.5 million jobs.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, its lowest level since September 2008.
Despite the improving job market, most employers still have plenty of applicants to choose from, and many workers with jobs don't have enough confidence to look for better-paying ones. While the number of long-term unemployed has dropped to a little more than 3 million, the data suggest that many have given up their job searches.
Combine that with a lack of strong wage growth, and the Federal Reserve may not feel pressure to start raising short-term interest rates any time soon.