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June's Job Numbers - 7/14/14

Less than a week ago, the U.S. Labor Department announced that the nation added 288,000 jobs in June – that was far better than the 215,000 jobs economists had predicted.  The nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent last month, its lowest level since September 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, setting off the full-blown global financial crisis.

It was a good report, even when one dives behind the headline numbers.  Unemployment in June declined not because people left the workforce, but because more people in fact had jobs.  April and May numbers were revised upward.  According to writer Neil Irwin, perhaps the best news regarded worker pay.  The index of weekly payrolls for private sector workers rose 0.4 percent for the month, reflecting both more hours worked and higher hourly pay. 

These numbers have led many economists to conclude that the economy is finally bursting out of its shell.  But there have been other periods over the last five years suggesting that the economy looked ready to accelerate, only to have it slow back down again.  As an example, the pace of job growth looked similar during the early months of 2012 – but the rest of the year simply wasn’t as good.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.