US employers added 223,000 jobs last month, down from the revised 254,000 gain in May as the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent. Instead of the first Friday of each month as usual, due to the Independence Day holiday, the Labor Department’s report was released on Thursday.
The fall of jobless rate was the lowest since April 2008, thus the reading at 5.3 percent is not far from the 5.0 percent to 5.2 percent range most Fed officials consider consistent with full employment.
Employment is one of the most important pieces of data and the Federal Reserve is monitoring it closely. The positive figure has been interpreted to suggest that the Fed is on track to hike interest rates this year in September.
The Fed has kept its overnight rates at historically low levels since December 2008.
The slowdown in the economy has left financial markets doubting whether the Fed will raise rates this year, if at all. Some believe the Fed could wait until 2016 for the rate hike.
However, economic data have been improving since May. Consumer spending, housing, job market and consumer confidence posted a decisively strong tone, suggesting the second quarter growth to be stronger than expectations. While economists expect the US economy grow above 3 percent in the second quarter, the economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter.