Coronavirus: US unemployment falls to 11.1% as June sees 4.8m new jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the United States gained 4.8 million jobs in June, as unemployment fell for the second straight month.

Coronavirus: US unemployment falls to 11.1% as June sees 4.8m new jobs
Bryan Woolston REUTERS

The United States’ economy gained 4.8 million jobs in June as unemployment fell to 11.1%, figures released on Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have revealed. The jobs gain is the largest in a single month in US history.

June rise in US employment higher than economists expected

The employment numbers, which were published a day early because of the 4th of July holiday, have exceeded economists’ expectations, with NBC reporting that three million new jobs and an overall jobless rate of 12.3% had been anticipated.

June’s drop in unemployment follows May’s unexpected fall from 14.7% to 13.3%, as the US added 2.5 million jobs and showed signs of recovery from a disastrous April that had brought the loss of 20.5 million positions.

New figures do not take into account states' paused reopenings

However, it should be noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures come from the middle of the month, meaning that June’s numbers reflect a point in time before some states began to pause their economic reopening plans.

States such as Florida, Arizona, Texas and California have been forced to roll back reopening measures amid coronavirus spikes that have led the US to post record rises in cases in recent days. On Wednesday, the country registered an unprecedented 52,982 new infections, with Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, describing the surge in cases as “very disturbing”.

What we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases well beyond the worse spikes that we’ve seen,” Fauci told an interview with the BBC’s Today program on Thursday. “That is not good news - we’ve got to get that under control or we risk an even greater outbreak in the United States."

US economic recovery to get "a lot bumpier", says expert

Michael Pearce, a senior economist at Capital Economics, has told CNBC that, amid the rise in coronavirus cases and the pausing of reopenings in America, the nation’s economic recovery is likely to get "a lot bumpier". He also cautioned that unemployment remains well above its pre-pandemic levels.

"[June’s labor report] still leaves employment 9.6% below its February level and with the spread of the virus accelerating again, we expect the recovery from here will be a lot bumpier and job gains far slower on average […]," Pearce said.

"Silly to pull back now on stimulus"

He also warned the Trump administration and lawmakers in Congress that the drop in the unemployment rate should not lead them to "pull back" on renewed economic relief legislation. “There are a lot of unknowns, and it would be silly on the fiscal side to pull back now on stimulus,” he said.

Speaking on Wednesday, President Trump said he was in favor of an aid package that would include a second round of Economic Impact Payments for qualifying Americans, telling Fox: “I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it. I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion.”

Live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

As of 15:00 ET on Thursday, there had been 2,686,587 coronavirus cases in the United States, leading to 516,786 deaths. You can follow live, America-focused coverage of the Covid-19 crisis with our dedicated US rolling feed.