The economy added a disappointing 80,000 jobs in June as the unemployment rate held steady at 8.2%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.
Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs last month. Growth in the second quarter averaged 10,000 per month, the department announced, compared with an average of 41,000 per month during the first quarter of 2012. In June, employment increased in motor vehicles and parts (7,000) and in fabricated metal products (5,000).
Calling it the "weakest recovery since the Great Depression," economist Peter Morici said "nearly the entire reduction in unemployment since October 2009 has been accomplished through a significant drop in the percentage of adults participating in the labor force-either working or looking for work."
Warning that growth may be even slower in the second quarter, Morici said the economy is "dangerously close to stalling and falling into recession."
The unemployment number is the "rotten cherry atop the half-baked economic news of the last few months," said Chris Jones, an economist with TD Economics, adding, "Only 225K nonfarm jobs have been created over the last 3 months, less than the number generated in either month of January or February."
Jones said the Eurozone crisis has helped slow manufacturing and foreign demand. "Despite strong corporate balance sheets, uncertainty on the economic and policy fronts is weighing on business sentiment and investment," said Jones. "It is for these reasons that we see job growth averaging no more than 125K in the second half of the year. That is an uncomfortably low number for a recovery now three years in the making.
Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said the Obama administration and Congress have more tools that they could use to promote private sector job growth.
"Launching trade actions against China’s market-distorting practices is one way, and we’re pleased the Obama administration is moving forward aggressively on China’s auto tariffs," he said. "But China, which has depreciated the yuan since the beginning of the year—should also be designated as a currency manipulator, and Congress should pass legislation that would deter this practice which destroys American jobs."
Calling the global economy in a "precarious position," U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Economist Dr. Martin Regalia urged action to alleviate business uncertainty. "We must address the fiscal cliff while agreeing on a plan to substantially reduce our long-term budget deficits, ease the burden of regulations on our nation’s entrepreneurs, and expand our trading agreements around the globe,” he said.