Despite growing payrolls, labor force participation drops

Job growth continues in the United States even as the proportion of people who are either working or looking for work has declined to its lowest level in almost four decades.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates for June, nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000. The unemployment rate slipped two-tenths of a point to 5.3 percent, the lowest level since April 2008.

At the same time, though, the civilian labor force declined 432,000, offsetting a similar gain in May. The labor force participation rate retreated three-tenths of a point to 62.6 percent in June, the lowest level since October 1977.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in May and April were revised downward 60,000 to a total of 441,000. With the latest numbers, payrolls have increased an average of 250,000 a month over the past year.

The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer fell 381,000 to 2.1 million in June. Another 6.5 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been cut or they’ve been unable to find full-time jobs.

Business and professional services added 64,000 jobs in June, while health care payrolls increased 40,000 and employment  grew 33,000 in retail trades and 30,000 in food services and drinking places. The financial activities sector added 20,000 jobs.

Mining payrolls continued to trend down with a loss of 4,000 jobs. The sector has shed 71,000 jobs over the past six months.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours for a fifth straight month. The average manufacturing workweek edged down a tenth of an hour to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at $24.95. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2 percent.