US non-farm payrolls increased by 4.8 million in June as companies rehired workers let go during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic economic shutdown.
It was the second-straight monthly gain after a catastrophic loss of more than 20 million jobs in April when the pandemic lockdown slowed significantly the world’s biggest economy.
The June job gains are the most since the government started keeping records in 1939. Payrolls rebounded 2.5 million in May after April's plunge.
Despite two straight months of eye-popping gains, employment still remains about 16 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level.
READ: US non-farm payrolls unexpectedly increase by 2.5 million in May as world’s biggest economy regains footing
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%, down from 13.3% last month.
Employment is increasing largely as companies rehire workers laid off when non-essential businesses like restaurants, bars, gyms and dental offices among others were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Economists have attributed the burst in job gains to the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, giving businesses loans that can be partially forgiven if used for wages.
A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial weekly claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 1.427 million for the week ended June 27 versus an expectation of 1.38 million claims.
Wall Street was set to rally on Thursday, with Dow futures recently trading up 360 points to 25,935. The June jobs report has been released a day earlier than normal due to the long Independence Day holiday weekend starting Friday.
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