Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in August and 5.3 percent over the past 12 months, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department 

Monthly growth in the consumer price index (CPI), a closely watched gauge of inflation, fell for the second consecutive month, dropping from a July increase of 0.5 percent. Economists expected the CPI to grow by 0.4 percent last month.

Annual growth in the CPI — one of several ways to measure yearly inflation — also fell from a 5.4 percent rate in July, the highest rate since August 2008. Excluding food and energy prices, which are more volatile, the CPI rose 4 percent over the past 12 months and just 0.1 percent in August.

While inflation remains close to decade-plus highs, the continued slowdown in price growth may help President BidenJoe BidenBiden stumps for Newsom on eve of recall: ‘The eyes of the nation are on California’ Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Family of American held hostage by Taliban urges administration to fire Afghanistan peace negotiator MORE and Democrats soothe concerns about the rising cost of living as they attempt to pass a sprawling economic agenda. Republicans have sought to blame Biden and congressional Democrats for the recent run-up in price growth with slightly more than a year until the midterm elections.

The decline may also relieve some pressure on the Federal Reserve to begin pulling back on bond purchases meant to keep borrowing costs low, especially as the delta variant continues to roil the U.S. economy.

“The August CPI report showed further moderation in the monthly gain in consumer inflation, especially at the core level,” wrote Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics.

“Headline CPI advanced by a solid 0.3%, though this is much softer than the outsized increases recorded in the prior five months,” she added. 

Economists expected inflation to cool slightly after a summer rush of travel and leisure spending drove price growth to remarkably high levels following steep declines in 2020.

Prices for airline fares, used cars and trucks, and motor vehicle insurance all fell in August after skyrocketing through most of the spring and summer. The CPI for used autos, which drove much of the summer’s increase in inflation, fell 1.5 percent in August but is still 31.9 percent higher than the same point in 2020.

Monthly inflation for groceries, restaurant and takeout meals, new vehicles, and shelter also fell in August. The rate of price growth for gasoline rose 0.4 percent in August, but the cost of fuel oil fell 2.1 percent last month as well.

The slowdown in inflation comes at a critical time for Biden and congressional Democrats as they race to write and pass a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and social services bill, strike a deal with Republicans to fund the federal government and raise the country’s borrowing limit.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Tester says ‘100 percent’ of reconciliation package must be paid for Overnight Energy & Environment —

The U.S. economy gained 850,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department said Friday, a gain that beat economists’ expectations and shows that an economic recovery is taking hold.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.9%, an indication that more people are looking for work.

The federal government found notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, professional and business services, retail trade, and other services.

Among the unemployed, the number of job leavers — unemployed persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and began looking for new employment —increased by 164,000 to 942,000 in June.

Economists take this as a sign of a strong job market giving workers the confidence to look for better jobs.

President Joe Biden’s official Twitter account said Friday: “3 Million Jobs since we took office. Our economic plan is working.”

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal , D-Springfield, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said good jobs numbers prove the effectiveness of steps taken to keep the economy afloat.

“For the sixth straight month, our economy has added back jobs, and this month’s higher than expected number is proof that we are on a strong road to recovery. Unemployment claims dropped again this week to a new pandemic low, and today’s report shows that workers who had to leave the workforce are returning. It is clear that Democrats’ leadership creating supplemental federal unemployment insurance during the pandemic kept workers and businesses afloat in a time of great need, and the emergency support has not discouraged workers from returning to the workplace once they felt it was safe to do so,” Neal said,

“All of our previous relief and recovery efforts laid the groundwork for the growing momentum seen in today’s report. By making more pro-job, pro-worker investments, we can speed up the recovery’s pace even more and strengthen the basic supports that allow for full worker participation. As the Ways and Means Committee laid out in our Building an Economy for Families Act, giving workers access to child care and paid family leave will help them return to the workplace, lead to a quicker recovery, fundamentally improve women’s ability to contribute to the economy, and make the United States more competitive on the world stage.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.8 million, was essentially unchanged over the month.

The June survey also shows other evidence that the economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, 14.4 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 16.6 percent in the prior month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6% in June and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4% to 61.75 since June 2020.

Local jobless numbers for June won’t be out until later this month. But for May, greater Springfield had an unemployment rate of 6.8%.

Greater Springfield gained only 900 jobs

The U.S. added 850,000 jobs in June, exceeding expectations as rising demand for a wide range of services disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic fueled the labor market, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

The unemployment rate ticked slightly higher to 5.9 percent, according to the report, but the monthly haul far exceeded the projections of economists, who expected the U.S. to gain roughly 700,000 jobs last month.

The labor force participation rate stayed roughly even at 61.6 percent, a sign that many Americans are still unable to return to the workforce. There were also 6.4 million Americans who did not seek a job in June — and therefore not counted as unemployed — but want to work, up from 5 million before the pandemic.

Even so, strong job gains in sectors hit hard by the pandemic and a sharp drop in the number of Americans working part-time when they’d prefer to work full time pointed toward an accelerating rebound from COVID-19.

“This strong labor market performance – despite persistent hiring strains – is likely the start of a series of stellar reports that will underpin the strongest US economic performance since 1951 this year,” said Lydia Boussour of Oxford Economics.

“While a combination of labor supply constraints – including the virus fear, unemployment benefits, child care issues and early retirements – is still constraining employment these headwinds should gradually ease in the coming months.”

The June jobs report may also help add clarity to the high-stakes political debate over the pace of the recovery.

The U.S. had added an average of 540,000 jobs each month between March and May, a solid but unspectacular pace for a country still down more than 7 million jobs from February 2020. Millions of Americans have also remained out of the labor force despite a record-breaking 9.3 million job openings as of April.

Republican lawmakers and some right-leaning economists have pinned the kinks in the labor market recovery — and rising inflation — on President BidenJoe BidenConsultants found extensive concrete deterioration at Surfside building in 2020: report Arkansas coronavirus cases reach new high for second day since the winter Emergency physician gathering photos among wreckage of Surfside building collapse MORE’s March extension of enhanced jobless aid programs. Twenty-six governors, almost all of them Republicans, pulled their states out of those programs as of June, meaning the effects won’t likely be apparent until July at the earliest.

The June jobs report, however, showed hard-hit sectors that struggled to hire workers earlier rebounding sharply as the number of Americans held back by the pandemic decreased. The number of Americans who said a COVID-19 related reason prevented them from looking for work dropped to 1.6 million in June, down 900,000 from 2.5 million in May.

“The June employment report showed an upshift in employment growth, nearly doubling the average job growth rate that has prevailed over the year, and it may mark an overall acceleration in the pace of hiring as viral and

Employers added 850,000 jobs in June, well above expectations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

That compares to 559,000 jobs in May and forecasts of a 700,000 increase.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was slightly changed at 5.9%, up from its 5.8% rate in May.

The strongest gains came in leisure and hospitality, along with educational services, retail and professional services.

The report was the third reading of the job market this week. Earlier, private payroll firm ADP said employers added 692,000 jobs and the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment were 364,000 last week – a new pandemic low – after rising above 400,000 for the two prior weeks.

Political Cartoons on the Economy

The positive news comes as the job market continues to recover from its pandemic depths, albeit somewhat unevenly. One constraint to faster growth is that employers are finding it difficult to hire workers, with the reasons cited being health fears related to COVID-19, lack of available child care, wages that are not attractive and a large retirement of baby boomers in 2020.

“Employers are hiring in the face of worsening labor shortages and a more competitive talent acquisition market than ever,” says Nate Smith, CEO of Lever, which helps companies find workers. “Right as they look to expand their business and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are experiencing “The Great Resignation,” with a record breaking 4 million workers quitting their jobs in April.”

While job gains have been averaging around 500,000 a month for the past three months, “There are still 7.6 million fewer jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels, so we still have a ways to go,” says Rhea Thomas, senior economist at Wilmington Trust.

“We may have to wait until the fall, however, to get a clearer picture of whether labor supply constraints are easing,” Thomas adds, noting that by then the $300-a-week enhanced unemployment benefits will have ended and schools should be mostly reopened in-person.

Getting the labor market back to something resembling its pre-pandemic state may take until 2022 or even 2023, some economists believe, and it is an important consideration for the Federal Reserve Board as to when it begins reducing its $120-billion per month purchase of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities it initiated back at the start of the pandemic.

With rising vaccination rates, more child care options available now that summer is here, and the enhanced unemployment benefits ending early in 25 states, “job growth is now all about volume,” says Drew Matus, chief market strategist at MetLife Investment Management.

Although inflation has risen sharply of late, there are indications it may be ebbing and the bond market seems to believe the Fed’s statements that it is “transitory.”

Future prices for lumber, a key material in housing, have fallen to $710 per thousand board feet – down from a record $1,670 reached in early May. Yields on the 10-year Treasury note are around 1.5%, having fallen significantly since their highs in March.

“It’s quite possible that

Employers added 950,000 jobs in June, well above expectations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

That compares to 559,000 jobs in May and forecasts of a 700,000 increase.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was slightly changed at 5.9%, up from its 5.8% rate in May.

The strongest gains came in leisure and hospitality, along with educational services, retail and professional services.

The report was the third reading of the job market this week. Earlier, private payroll firm ADP said employers added 692,000 jobs and the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment were 364,000 last week – a new pandemic low – after rising above 400,000 for the two prior weeks.

Political Cartoons on the Economy

The positive news comes as the job market continues to recover from its pandemic depths, albeit somewhat unevenly. One constraint to faster growth is that employers are finding it difficult to hire workers, with the reasons cited being health fears related to COVID-19, lack of available child care, wages that are not attractive and a large retirement of baby boomers in 2020.

“Employers are hiring in the face of worsening labor shortages and a more competitive talent acquisition market than ever,” says Nate Smith, CEO of Lever, which helps companies find workers. “Right as they look to expand their business and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are experiencing “The Great Resignation,” with a record breaking 4 million workers quitting their jobs in April.”

While job gains have been averaging around 500,000 a month for the past three months, “There are still 7.6 million fewer jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels, so we still have a ways to go,” says Rhea Thomas, senior economist at Wilmington Trust.

“We may have to wait until the fall, however, to get a clearer picture of whether labor supply constraints are easing,” Thomas adds, noting that by then the $300-a-week enhanced unemployment benefits will have ended and schools should be mostly reopened in-person.

Getting the labor market back to something resembling its pre-pandemic state may take until 2022 or even 2023, some economists believe, and it is an important consideration for the Federal Reserve Board as to when it begins reducing its $120-billion per month purchase of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities it initiated back at the start of the pandemic.

With rising vaccination rates, more child care options available now that summer is here, and the enhanced unemployment benefits ending early in 25 states, “job growth is now all about volume,” says Drew Matus, chief market strategist at MetLife Investment Management.

Although inflation has risen sharply of late, there are indications it may be ebbing and the bond market seems to believe the Fed’s statements that it is “transitory.”

Future prices for lumber, a key material in housing, have fallen to $710 per thousand board feet – down from a record $1,670 reached in early May. Yields on the 10-year Treasury note are around 1.5%, having fallen significantly since their highs in March.

“It’s quite possible that

People seeking employment wait to speak to a recruiter at the 25th annual Central Florida Employment Council Job Fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. More than 80 companies were recruiting for over a thousand jobs. Organizers expected a couple thousand job seekers, but only around 500 attended.

Paul Hennessy | LightRocket | Getty Images

Private payrolls growth increased at a faster rate than expected in June thanks to a burst in hiring for the hospitality sector, ADP reported Wednesday.

The gain of 692,000 was well above the 550,000 Dow Jones estimate though it fell short of May’s 886,000. In one bit of bad news for the jobs market, the May count was revised down sharply from the initially reported 978,000, though that still left it as the best month since September 2020.

From an industry standpoint, the biggest hiring gain came from the 332,000 pickup in leisure and hospitality. The sector, which includes bars, restaurants, hotels and other related businesses, took the hardest hit from the Covid-19 pandemic but has shown strong gains during the economic reopening.

Education and health services also indicated strong gains, increasing by 123,000, while trade, transportation and utilities rose by 62,000 and professional and business services saw 53,000 hires.

On the goods-producing side, construction payrolls increased by 47,000 while manufacturing was up 19,000.

Overall, services provided the bulk of the job gains with 624,000, while goods producers added 68,000.

ADP chief economist Nela Richardson called the job gains “robust” with about three million hires this year, though that still leaves about 7 million who were working before the pandemic hit without jobs.

“Service providers, the hardest hit sector, continue to do the heavy lifting, with leisure and hospitality posting the strongest gain as businesses begin to reopen to full capacity across the country,” Richardson said.

Job gains again were evenly spread across industries by size. Companies with more than 500 workers added 240,000, while firms with 50-499 workers contributed 236,000 and small firms increased by 215,000, according to ADP, which compiles the report with Moody’s Analytics.

The ADP report serves as a walk-up to the more closely watched nonfarm payrolls count that the Labor Department will release Friday.

Economist surveyed by Dow Jones expect a total payroll increase of 706,000, compared to May’s 559,000. The unemployment rate is projected to drop to 5.6% from 5.8%. However, the ADP and Labor Department counts often vary widely.

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Job creation disappointed again in May, with nonfarm payrolls up what normally would be considered a solid 559,000 but still short of lofty expectations, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Payrolls were expected to increase by 671,000, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.8% from 6.1%, which was better than the estimate of 5.9%. An alternative measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding parttime jobs for economic reasons edged lower to 10.2%.

May’s letdown came after April sharply undershot expectations, with the upwardly revised 278,000 still well short of the initial 1 million estimate that came with high hopes for an economy trying to shake loose its pandemic shackles.

Markets were not disappointed by Friday’s report. Stock market futures actually rose, with investors betting that the measured pace of job gains would keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates and tightening monetary policy.

“Economists have been a little overly optimistic about the pace of which we’re moving here. It takes a while for people to get jobs,” said Kathy Jones, head of fixed income at Charles Schwab. “For the stock market, there’s no reason for the Fed to move too quickly, and therefore that’s also good news for the bond market.”

The employment- to-population ratio, which some Fed officials have cited as an important gauge of labor progress, inched higher to 58% but remained well short of its pre-pandemic level of 61.1%. The labor force participation rate, another closely watched metric, edged lower to 61.6% as the size of the group fell by 53,000 with more than 100 million American workers remaining on the sidelines.

The jobs miss comes as employers widely cite a labor shortage as a critical factor in why more hiring is not happening. Some have attributed the situation to generous unemployment benefits as well as child-care issues and continuing fears about the coronavirus as obstacles to filling the 8 million vacant positions.

The services industry took the biggest hit from the pandemic lockdowns and continued to lead the job creation in May.

Leisure and hospitality added 292,000 positions, with the bulk of 186,000 coming in restaurants and bars.

Public and private education also saw the benefits of reopening, adding 144,000 across the board. Other gains came from health care and social assistance (46,000), information (29,000), manufacturing (23,000), transportation and warehousing (23,000), wholesale trade (20,000) and professional and business services (35,000).

Construction lost 20,000 positions while retail also was down 6,000.

Diminishing Covid-19 cases and a continued brisk pace in vaccines have pushed elected leaders to relax restrictions put in place to halt the spread of the virus. The economy grew at a 6.4% pace in the first quarter and is on track to accelerate at a 10.3% pace in the second quarter, according to the latest reading from the Federal Reserve in Atlanta.

But the U.S. jobs level is still about 7 million shy of where it was pre-pandemic.

One notable part of the report was an

Private payrolls rose more than expected last month, with some of the industries hardest-hit by social distancing requirements making strides to recover jobs as the economy emerges from the pandemic.

U.S. private employers added back 978,000 payrolls last month, ADP said in its closely watched monthly jobs report on Thursday. This followed a downwardly revised rise of 654,000 in April. Consensus economists were looking for private payrolls to increase by 650,000 in May, according to Bloomberg data.

By sector, service-providing employers again added the most jobs by far last month at a net 850,000. Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 440,000, and education and health services employment rose by 139,000 in May. Trade, transportation and utilities jobs also increased by a strong 118,000. Information industry employers were the only ones to shed jobs on net last month, with these ticking down by 3,000.

In the goods-producing sector, overall private payrolls rose by 128,000, led by construction with an increase of 65,000. Manufacturing jobs increased by 52,000, while mining added back 11,000 positions. 

Thursday’s report represented a fifth straight month of net private payroll gains, with vaccinations, eased social distancing and mask mandates and warmer weather each contributing to more consumer mobility and demand across the economy. This has in turn lifted economic activity and spurred a wave of job openings as employers look to meet increased demand. 

In fact, one of the biggest issues facing the economy during the recovery has been an undersupply of workers available to fill open positions. Economists have attributed this to lingering concerns over contracting COVID-19, difficulty finding childcare and enhanced, and crisis-era federal unemployment benefits, which may be providing a disincentive for some to find work. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 27: A person walks by an empty store in China Town on May 27, 2021 in New York City. On May 19, all pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, venue capacities and restaurant curfews were lifted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 27: A person walks by an empty store in China Town on May 27, 2021 in New York City. On May 19, all pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, venue capacities and restaurant curfews were lifted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

But regardless of cause, the labor shortages have already begun to cap growth as the recovery takes place. The Institute for Supply Management’s May manufacturing index released earlier this week showed that employment trends were slowing in the goods-producing sector, and that “difficulties in filling open positions continue to be issues that limit manufacturing-growth potential.”

Still, the economy has added back jobs in every month this year, and overall jobs data has pointed to continuous improvement. ADP’s private payrolls report also comes a day before the U.S. Labor Department’s “official” April jobs report on Friday, which will offer a more comprehensive look at the state of the labor market recovery. The ADP report has typically been an unreliable indicator of the results in the government report due to differences in survey methodology, with ADP counting individuals on active payrolls during the survey period as employed, whereas the Labor Department includes those receiving paychecks during the survey period. 

Last month, the

Positive labor market data released Thursday added to rising confidence that the economy is returning in full force, with the latest weekly initial jobless claims falling below 400,000 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic’s chokehold strained the nation.

Initial applications for unemployment benefits fell to 385,000 for the week ended May 29, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.

Payroll processing firm ADP also reported better-than-expected numbers on Thursday, revealing that 970,000 people had been hired in May, the biggest gain since June 2020. Economists had predicted that May hirings would total around 680,000.

The latest employment metrics bolster the prevailing optimism about Friday’s closely watched monthly jobs report, with economists polled by Dow Jones projecting gains of 674,000.

“We have reason to believe the economic recovery will remain on track in the coming months,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, citing the increased number of vaccinated Americans and more widespread reopenings.

Aaron Sojourner, labor economist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, said the increase in vaccinations is a catalyst for job growth. “This boosts labor supply, as more Americans protect themselves, their families, and neighbors against Covid health risks previously created by work,” he said. “Vaccinations also boost labor demand, making it safe for people to enjoy in-person services.”

Vaccinations boost labor demand, making it safe for people to enjoy in-person services.

Frank Fiorille, vice president of risk management, compliance and data analytics at Paychex, said data from the company’s 350,000 small-business clients reveals that some employers are raising pay to coax workers off the sidelines.

In leisure and hospitality — one of the hardest-hit sectors throughout the pandemic — weekly pay has risen by nearly 10 percent over the past year, Fiorille said. “We’re seeing wages rise dramatically in that sector. The feeling is these businesses are having to pay them more to have them come back to work” he said.

And those employers recently have ramped up their hiring initiatives, said Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed.com. “Categories that have seen their level increase the most recently have been in the really pandemic-constrained sectors of the labor market,” he said, adding that job ads across all sectors are running about 26 percent above pre-pandemic levels.

“In light of last month’s report, this month’s is really important to give us a sense of whether last month was a blip or a sign of a bigger story in the labor market,” Bunker said of the upcoming labor market report.

While economists — and officials — say there can be enough noise in the data for any one month to be an anomaly, a second big miss would be a red flag, a warning sign for investors and politicians alike that the trajectory towards post-pandemic normalcy isn’t necessarily a straight line.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research, said he plans to keep an eye on the numbers in manufacturing. The sector lost 18,000 jobs last month, and further erosion could indicate

Leisure and hospitality saw gains in jobs in April, however, the overall jobs performance in the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employment Situation” didn’t live up to pre-report expectations.

“Pre-report expectations were for the economy to add about a million jobs in April as the pandemic recovery was gaining real momentum,” said John Anderson, economist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. “The report showed actual job gains of only about a quarter that amount: 266,000.”

Leisure and hospitality saw gains in jobs in April. (Image by Dreamstime)

With the job gains concentrated in the leisure and hospitality sector, Anderson said “this is a positive indicator of a return to more normal activities, with restaurants, hotels and travel and leisure related businesses staffing back up to handle increasing business. However, this is one of the lower-wage sectors of the economy.”

The average hourly earnings in the leisure and hospitality sector were reported to be $17.88 in the April report — the lowest of any sector reported.

“By way of comparison, average hourly earnings in the manufacturing sector were reported at $29.33 in April,” he said. “That sector actually lost jobs in April according to the ‘Employment Situation’ report: a decline of 18,000 jobs after a couple of months of solid gains.”

Comparisons with the pre-pandemic period make it clear that employment has yet to fully recover from COVID-related disruptions, Anderson said.

Total non-farm employment had reached 152.5 million in February 2020 before pandemic effects began to be felt. The April data shows total non-farm employment of 144.3 million – a major improvement over pandemic-impaired employment but not quite back to the pre-pandemic normal.

Even with these gains in April, the unemployment rate edged up from 6.0 percent in March to 6.1 percent in April. 

“This is the first month-over-month increase in the unemployment rate since the onset of pandemic disruptions in March 2020,” Anderson said.

The April report has provided analysts plenty of fodder for discussion.

“The huge divergence between this report’s jobs numbers and pre-report expectations has raised questions about the extent to which the enhanced unemployment benefits enacted during the pandemic are affecting workers’ employment decisions,” Anderson said.

Benefits that allow unemployed workers maintain their income and spending, is a “mechanism made a lot of sense back in the days of a manufacturing economy in which major employers made somewhat regular use of temporary layoffs,” he said. “It arguably makes less sense in our current economy. Still, the point remains that there are valid arguments for some ambiguity around the effects of unemployment benefits on employment levels.”

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