The US rebound from the Covid-19 crisis picked up speed in June as the economy added 850,000 new jobs, new government data released Friday revealed, cementing the evidence of a broad recovery.
The uptick was better than expected and came after two months of disappointing results, with big increases in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, the Labor Department said in its closely-watched monthly report.
That will be a boon to President Joe Biden as he pushes policies to provide even more juice to the world's largest economy to ensure that the rebound continues.
The economy has added 3.3 million jobs this year. Biden is expected to comment on the data later Friday.
However, the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent in May, the data showed, and the jobless rate for Black workers rose a tenth of a point to 9.2 percent.
Economist Joseph Brusuelas of RSM US noted on Twitter: "We remain 6.8 million jobs short of where we were in Feb 2020. Still 5 million short in services, so that is where the focus will be going forward."
As the United States has brought the Covid-19 pandemic under control with widespread vaccination campaigns, hotels and restaurants have reopened and hired at a rapid pace, adding 343,000 positions last month, the report said.
However, the sector is still short 2.2 million jobs from February 2020.
Education gained 230,000 positions at the state and local government level, while manufacturing gained 15,000 but construction lost.
"While today's report was shy of the coveted 1-million mark, it paints a picture of a steadily recovering jobs market," said Lydia Boussour of Oxford Economics.
But she noted that many companies continue to report difficulties finding people to fill open positions.
"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," she said.
While the rising jobless rate is viewed as bad news, in a recovery economy it is generally an indication that discouraged workers are more upbeat about their job prospects and have come off the sidelines to look for work.
But in this case, the report said the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6 percent.
Robert Frick of Navy Federal Credit Union downplayed the rising jobless rate and said there are signs of good news ahead.
"The unemployment rate nudged up because more Americans are seeking jobs, and good employment gains for teachers will have a multiplier effect in the next few months, as that allows kids to go back to school and frees over a million parents to return to work," he said of the data.
Still, the figures showed some mixed results as the ranks of the long-term unemployed -- those jobless for 27 weeks or more -- rebounded after declining in May.
But the number of job leavers -- workers who quit their previous job and began looking for new employment -- increased to 942,000, the report said. This is seen as a sign that people feel more confident about their ability to find a new job.