Economists saw encouraging signs in the government’s monthly unemployment report that should signal continued job growth for South Carolina in the year’s second half.
The Labor Department said Friday the nation’s employers added 195,000 jobs in June while the unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent and the labor participation rate — the percentage of working-age Americans employed — rose slightly for a second straight month.
Meanwhile, revisions to April and June data showed an additional 70,000 jobs were added to previously reported numbers.
Moreover, growth in average earnings improved 2.2 percent over the past year, which coupled with lower inflation shows a rise in real incomes and a reason for higher consumer spending in the months ahead.
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South Carolina’s job growth and employment numbers have been trending better than the national data for several months, and there was nothing in Friday’s report to portend the state’s momentum would slow when its June report comes out in a couple of weeks.
South Carolina’s jobless rate remained at 8 percent in May, while the three counties with the best rates — Greenville, Lexington and Charleston — all ticked up slightly, primarily because of a swelling labor force.
“Private sector job gains support the outlook for a continued moderate, but subpar, growth path for this year and diminish any case for dramatic weakness or recession,” said John Silvia, chief economist for Wells Fargo Securities.
“The private sector continues to be the driver of job growth, with gains evident in trade, finance, business services, education and health as well as in leisure and hospitality.”
Martin Schwerdtfeger, senior economist with TD Bank, said the government’s June unemployment report was “one of the most highly anticipated data releases in recent months — if not years.”
He said economists were not only looking for signs of strength but also what tack the Federal Reserve would take following Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks in May that the Fed could reduce the size of its asset purchases.
“The U.S. job market has been able to sustain momentum even when confronted by the fiscal drag on economic growth stemming from sequestration,” Schwerdtfeger said.
“The fact that net revisions in recent months have been consistently adding to previously reported data further supports the view that the economic recovery will continue to gather pace.”