The level of total non-farm payrolls and office-using payrolls each reached a new high with the release of today’s job report for June, with widespread job gains across professional and business services, retail trade, food services, and health care. Incorporating the revisions for April and May, which added a total of 29,000 employees to the prior months’ figures, monthly job gains have averaged 272,000 over the past 3 months, while office-using employment has averaged 66,000 over the same period, each ahead of its average over the prior 12 months.
The +93,000 gain in total office-using employment (Table 1 and Chart 1) was almost entirely due to increases in professional/business services workers, although the contribution from the increase in temporary help services employees was smaller than usual. Job gains in the financial activities sector (+17,000) were the highest in more than two years, even as the commercial banking sector has shed employees for the past 17 consecutive months. The tally of information sector employees, whose ranks rose by 9,000, was also welcome news: in the prior 12 months to May 2014, information jobs contracted an average of -3,000 per month.
The Household Survey showed a decline of -0.2 percentage points in the unemployment rate—bringing the rate already in line with the Federal Reserve’s 6.0%-6.1% forecast for Q4 2014. Even one of the “alternative” measures of labor slack—the number of people working part-time for economic reasons—continues to decline in line with the overall reduction in the number of unemployed (Chart 2 below). It should come as welcome news that the growth in the number of employed workers hasn’t been due to an increase in the number of part-time workers—even if the improvement in the labor market hasn’t increased the participation rate, as many have expected.
Table 1. Monthly Change in Office Using Payrolls by Category
Chart 1. Office-Using Employment and Total Payrolls, June 2007 – June 2014 (Seasonally-Adjusted, 000s)
Chart 2. Number of People Employed Part-Time By Reason and Total Unemployed, (Seasonally-Adjusted, 000s)