Employers added 287,000 jobs in June as the labor market bounced back resoundingly from a spring slump, easing concerns about a longer-term slowdown in payroll growth and sparking a big stock rally.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.9% from 4.7% as about 400,000 Americans streamed into the labor force, including discouraged workers who had stopped looking for jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

Wall Street cheered the better-than-expected gains and the resulting rally nearly sent the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index to a new closing high. The S&P 500 rose 32.00 points, or 1.5%, to 2129.90, stopping just shy of its record closing high of 2130.82 set May 21. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 251 points, or 1.4%, to 18,147 for its highest level since May 2015. After Friday, Wall Street has now recouped all its 'Brexit'-related losses.

Economists’ median estimate was for 180,000 employment gains, according to a Bloomberg survey. June payrolls were expected to be boosted by 35,000 Verizon workers who returned from a strike that had suppressed May employment by a similar amount. Even excluding that artificial bump, employment rose by a robust 252,000.

Businesses added 265,000 jobs, led by leisure and hospitality, health care and finance. Federal, state and local governments added 22,000.

A mild disappointment: Job additions for April and May were revised down by a total 6,000. April’s was revised to 144,000 from 123,000, and May’s to just 11,000 from 38,000.

Average hourly wages rose a modest 2 cents to $25.61 and are up 2.6% the past year, in line with a recent pickup, but earnings have yet to surge higher despite the near-normal unemployment rate. The Fed is seeking more rapid pay increases before raising interest rates again. It's unlikely that even June's blockbuster jobs tally will coax the Fed into raising rates at a meeting late this month after the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union rattled financial markets.

But the report increases the odds of a rate hike in September or December, says Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics.

Written by Paul Davidson, USA TODAY


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