Business hiring forges ahead in June, with 213,000 jobs added

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 213,000 new jobs last month, the second straight month that job growth has topped 200,000 despite indications that the U.S.is at or near full employment.

The unemployment rate rose from an 18-year low of 3.8% to 4% but that was because more people were drawn into the strong labor market.

The central bank raised the benchmark lending rate last month, and is expect to hike twice more this year. Expectations have grown that governor Stephen Poloz will raise the benchmark for the first time since January.

"Overall the report is good news insofar as it suggests the economy still has some capacity to grow at an above-trend pace without generating much inflationary pressure", said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in NY.

Wages were also a bit of a disappointment, with average hourly earnings rising by 0.2% over the prior month and 2.7% over the prior year.

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It is unusual for monthly job numbers to be this high nine years into an expansion.

The Trump administration has also applied tariffs on steel and aluminum from allies like Canada and Mexico and has threatened to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement with those two countries.

Although the report for June was far from uniformly strong, it will reinforce the perception that the USA will continue to outpace other countries and should be able to navigate trade policy uncertainties as long as they don't lead to a full-blown global trade war.

"People are anxious. The trade war isn't hurting them yet, but they are concerned". But retailers cut 21,600 jobs last month, after boosting payrolls by 25,100 in May.Government payrolls increased by 11,000 jobs in June. The factory jobs were concentrated in the automobile sector, which had seen a decline in employment in May after a fire at a parts supplier disrupted production.

The overall picture is again one of a strengthening labor market, but one that is still not tight enough to produce substantial wage growth.

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"After an impressive performance in 2017, the Canadian labour market definitely took a breather in the first half of 2018", Arseneau wrote in a research note to clients. Manufacturing rose by 36,000, while the fabricated metals industry, which is at the heart of Trump's current trade battle, added 7,000 new workers. That's an increase in total employment of a quarter of a million jobs.

The rise in unemployment isn't as bad as it seems, said Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com.

Whether the unemployment rate jumped by 0.2 of a percentage point or 0.3, both were good signs for the economy. Huh? The global trade deficit was about $1.9 billion in April and $3.9 billion in March. That's consistent with other reports showing strength in factory activity.

The US economy keeps adding jobs at a blistering pace.

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