June jobs report surpasses expectations — but with a 'big asterisk'

A man wearing a face mask walks past a sign "Now Hiring" in front of a store amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 14, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This month's jobs report has once again surpassed economists' expectations, though there's an important caveat to keep in mind.

The Labor Department on Thursday said the U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 11.1 percent. Both of these numbers were significantly better than expected, as economists were anticipating about 2.9 million jobs to be added and for the unemployment rate to decline to about 12.4 percent, CNBC reports. This comes after last month, another better-than-expected jobs report saw the unemployment rate decline to 13.3 percent, with 2.5 million jobs added.

Still, The New York Times notes the latest unemployment survey was taken in mid-June, before states like Arizona and and Florida started to see a spike in new COVID-19 cases. These spikes have led some states to slow down their reopenings and close businesses, and the surge in cases "could hamper the labor market’s recovery," The Wall Street Journal writes. The Washington Post's Heather Long referred to this fact as a "big asterisk" to keep in mind when looking at the job gains.

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At the same time on Thursday, the Labor Department also reported that another 1.42 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, whereas economists were anticipating about 1.38 million claims, CNBC notes.

“We’re in the beginning of a slow recovery," University of Tennessee labor economist Marianne Wanamaker told the Journal. "I think the recovery will stall out if we don’t get control of the virus."

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