U.S. job growth pulls jobless rate to six-year low

The pace of job growth continues to accelerate in the United States, in turn pulling down the jobless rate to its lowest level in nearly six years.

According to the latest Department of Labor estimates, U.S. payrolls increased 288,000 in June. The unemployment rate slipped two-tenths of a point to 6.1 percent, the lowest level since September 2008.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in May and April were revised upward a total of 29,000 to 528,000.

With the latest numbers, payroll gains have topped 200,000 for five consecutive months, the longest such stretch since the late 1990s. So far in 2014, payrolls have increased an average of 231,000 a month, the highest six-month average since 2006.

The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer declined 293,000 in June to 3.1 million. Still, another 7.5 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been cut back or they were unable to find full-time positions.

For June, payroll gains were spread out among several industry sectors. Professional and business services added 67,000 jobs, while employment increased 40,000 in retail trades and 33,000 in food services and drinking places. Payrolls rose 21,000 in health care, 17,000 in financial services and 16,000 in manufacturing.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.5 hours for a fourth straight month. The average manufacturing workweek held steady at 41.1 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 6 cents to $24.45. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2 percent.