U.S. Added Nearly 5 Million Jobs in June: Live Business Updates

U.S. payrolls grew by 4.8 million in June, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the second month of gains after a loss of more than 20 million in April, when the pandemic put a large swath of economic activity on ice.

The unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent, down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April but still higher than in any previous period since World War II. The rate would have been about one percentage point higher had it not been for persistent data-collection problems, the Labor Department said.

There were still nearly 15 million fewer jobs in June than in February, before the pandemic forced businesses to close.

And the survey was compiled in mid-June, before coronavirus cases began to spike in Arizona, Florida and several other states.

More timely data, also released by the Labor Department on Thursday morning, showed that 1.4 million Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, and more than 800,000 filed for benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Economists fear that layoffs could accelerate now that California, Texas and other states have begun ordering some businesses to close anew.

“The virus drives the economics,” said Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers under former President Barack Obama who is now at the University of Michigan. If cases continue to rise as health officials warn, she said, “we’re not going to have people going back to work. In fact, we’re going to see more people staying home.”

President Trump called the report “spectacular” at a news conference an hour after the numbers were released. — Ben Casselman and Nelson D. Schwartz

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent in June, data released Thursday showed, but minority unemployment remained higher — especially for Black workers.

Black adults saw their unemployment rate ease to 15.4 percent, the data showed. Hispanic unemployment fell to 14.5 percent in June, compared to 17.6 percent in May. The Asian unemployment rate stood at 13.8 percent, down from 15 percent the prior month.

Those jobless rates were substantially higher than that for white workers. White adult unemployment fell to 10.1 percent in June, down from 12.4 percent the prior month. Across racial and ethnic groups, joblessness is still up dramatically from February, before state lockdowns began.

Economic officials are worried that the current crisis is disproportionately falling on those with the most limited resources — particularly service and low-wage workers, who are disproportionately from minority groups. A major concern is that those people will have more trouble regaining their labor market foothold as the economy opens.

“We already knew that there were structural inequities,” Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said during an online event on Wednesday. “Covid-19 made them much, much worse — it put a spotlight on them, but it also exacerbated them.” — Jeanna Smialek

The coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard for workers whose jobs could not be done remotely, including millions of restaurant, hospitality and other service workers, many of whom were making relatively low wages to begin with.

The June employment report suggests that such groups are still suffering as the economy makes its crawl back from the brink. The share of adults with less than a high school degree who are working stood at 35.7 percent last month, up from the prior month but still down from 45.1 percent in February. And less than half of adults with just a high school diploma are employed: The group’s employment rate is at 48.6 percent in June, down from 56.2 percent before state lockdowns took hold.

Among those with a bachelor’s degree or more, about 67.7 percent are working. While it is much higher than the rates for the less-educated groups, that’s down from 71.7 percent in February. — Jeanna Smialek

The pandemic has created an army of part-time workers.

Even as the labor market heals from the coronavirus pandemic, many American workers are struggling to return to full-time hours.

The June jobs report showed that the number of adults who are working part-time hours for economic reasons remained elevated at 9.1 million in June, more than double its February level. The figure dropped by 1.6 million between May and June, as a sizable chunk of people who would prefer full-time work found it, the Labor Department said.

The remaining army of involuntary part-timers shows that the headline unemployment rate does not tell the full story of the pandemic-era labor market. Overall joblessness is improving, dropping to 11.1 percent in June from 13.3 percent in May and 14.7 percent the month before. A broader rate that counts underemployed workers and those who would like a job but are not actively looking is also healing, but remains at historical highs.

The rate, called “U-6” in wonk parlance, stood at 18 percent in June, down from 21.2 percent the prior month and a high of 22.8 percent in April. The current level remains higher than even the Great Recession peak, which topped out at 17.2 percent at the end of 2009.

The composition of unemployed workers is also shifting as the pandemic-spurred economic crisis continues. While the number of people temporarily laid off is decreasing, permanent job losses continue to rise. That suggests that even as many laid off workers are finding work again following shutdown-era furloughs, others are losing their positions altogether.

The share of Americans who have been out of a job for 14 weeks or less is declining, while the share that have been unemployed for a longer continues rise. That again suggests that while short-term, temporary job losses are abating, more permanent damage lingers. — Jeanna Smialek

Five airlines agree to take U.S. government loans.

The Treasury Department said on Thursday that it had reached loan agreements with American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Sky West Airlines and Spirit Airlines as the industry continues to struggle with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus legislation passed in March, the industry was eligible to apply for payroll support money and $25 billion in loans for passenger airlines.

“Conversations with other airlines continue, and we look forward to finalizing agreements as soon as possible,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

In a filing earlier this month, American said it expected to receive a five-year $4.75 billion loan through the program. The airline said at the time that it would offer as collateral “a significant portion” of its AAdvantage loyalty program, which it valued at between $19.5 billion and $31.5 billion. Including the loan, American has about $15 billion in cash, its chief executive, Doug Parker, said in a memo to staff on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines has said that it expects to be eligible for a $4.6 billion loan under the program, while United Airlines expects it could receive a $4.5 billion loan. Both have said in recent weeks that they are still considering whether to take the loan, even as they raised private financing.

As part of the agreements, the airlines must provide equity stakes or other forms of compensation to the Treasury Department, maintain staffing levels and curb pay increases.

The Treasury Department did not immediately disclose the terms of the loans.

Airlines have been slowly recovering since reaching historic lows in April. At the time, passenger traffic had fallen as low as 96 percent compared to a year earlier. Now, it is closer to 25 percent. — Alan Rappeport and Niraj Chokshi

Trump takes credit for employment surge: ‘This is not just luck that’s happening.’

President Trump celebrated the news on Thursday that the economy added nearly 5 million jobs in June, claiming full credit for a “record-setting” month of gains and predicting that further recovery would boost his standing for the November election.

His comments continued what appears to be his strategy for managing the politics of the recession that swept the United States this spring as the spread of the coronavirus led to widespread business closings: Ignore the record-setting declines in employment and economic activity that occurred on his watch, but trumpet the rebound when those declines begin to reverse.

In his remarks in the White House briefing room, Mr. Trump noted gains in the stock market and in consumer confidence. He said no other president would be able to achieve his results.

“This is not just luck that’s happening,” he said.” This is a lot of talent.”

Mr. Trump did not acknowledge the continued pain felt by American workers — nearly 18 million of whom remain unemployed. He cited gains made by Black workers but failed to note that nearly 3 million fewer Black Americans were working in June than in February, or that the Black unemployment rate actually rose in June. “African-American workers, really happily for me, made historic gains, with 400,000 jobs added last month,” he said. “That’s a record.”

Mr. Trump predicted continued employment gains through the summer, dismissing the “flames” of a resurgent virus that have begun to hurt the economy again in states like Florida and Texas and proclaiming the virus under control. He suggested the economy would grow rapidly in the third quarter of the year. “And the good news is the numbers will be coming out right before the election, so people can see.” — Jim Tankersley

Tesla sales fell only modestly in the second quarter even as the pandemic hit.

Tesla said on Thursday that its deliveries of electric cars dipped in the second quarter as sales plunged in much of the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the drop was much more modest than expected.

The company said it delivered 90,650 cars in the quarter, down 5 percent from the 95,365 it sold in the same period in 2019. It sold 88,496 cars in the first quarter of 2020, when most of the company’s operations were largely unaffected by the virus.

Local officials forced Tesla to shut down its main car factory, in Fremont, Calif., in March. Two months later, the company restarted production earlier than it was authorized to do so after its chief executive, Elon Musk, criticized stay-at-home orders as “fascist.”

Still, the delivery numbers were better than analysts had expected and Tesla’s shares jumped 8 percent in early trading before the stock market opened on the news. The company’s stock has soared in recent months, and has been setting new highs this week.

At its current price, Tesla has a market value of nearly $210 billion. That’s more than the value of Toyota Motor, which was previously the world’s most valuable automaker, and three times the combined value of General Motors and Ford Motor.

While traditional automakers sell vastly more cars and earn billions of dollars more in profit than Tesla, Wall Street has grown increasingly optimistic about Tesla’s prospects this year. Some investors consider the company to be at the vanguard of the transition from petroleum-fueled cars and trucks to electric vehicles — a change that they believe older companies like Toyota, G.M. and Ford are ill prepared for. — Neal E. Boudette

Stocks on Wall Street rose on Thursday, following global markets higher and extending this week’s rally to a fourth day, as new data showed that hiring in June was stronger than expected.

The S&P 500 rose about half a percent, putting it on track to rise more than 4 percent this week. Major European indexes were 1 to 2 percent higher, after Asian indexes ended the trading session on a positive note.

Oil prices also rose, with the American benchmark crossing above $40 a barrel.

The U.S. government said on Thursday that employers added nearly five million workers to payrolls in June, continuing an upswing that started in May as the American economy started coming out of lockdown. Economists had expected a gain of about three million.

When Alexandria Preston had to leave her job as a medical assistant to care for her two children during the pandemic, she didn’t encounter endless delays like so many others trying to get unemployment benefits.

But three weeks later, the payments stopped coming. Then her account was canceled. Her claim had been flagged with the date 9/9/9999 — an indication that it was being reviewed for identity fraud, a vexing problem for a strained unemployment system that has delayed payments to hundreds of thousands of jobless people.

“It was two weeks of not knowing anything and not getting any answers,” said Ms. Preston, who lives in Bangor, Maine.

More than 40 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic — over seven times as many requests as all of 2019. And the volume of claims has been convenient cover for identity thieves filing bogus applications that could cost billions of dollars.

“Fraudsters have been able to hide in the flood of data,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a public interest research group. — Tara Siegel Bernard

As the country reopens, you might start seeing more real-time heat maps that could find sick people, before they know they are sick. And in a post-quarantine world, you might start having your temperature taken. A lot.

A fever is one indicator that someone may be exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends temperature screenings in a variety of environments, including schools and businesses.

When the pandemic took hold, Jonah M. Kessel, a video journalist at The New York Times started seeing more and more companies like Amazon using this technology to help identify sick people in their warehouses. Thermal imaging cameras are beginning to appear in Subway restaurants. Carnival Cruise Lines, whose ships became hot spots for the virus’s spread, said all passengers and crew would be screened when it began sailing again.

The rapid adoption of infrared technology had him wondering how helpful it could be. With a temperature-reading infrared camera, he hit the streets of Maplewood, N.J., last week, wanting to understand where the camera succeeds and where the challenges are in capturing accurate temperature readings. — Jonah M. Kessel

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • McDonald’s said Wednesday it was pausing for three weeks its plans to resume dine-in service at thousands of locations across the United States amid a surge in coronavirus infections. Dining rooms are already open at about 2,200 McDonald’s restaurants, of about 14,000 locations nationwide, and may remain open if local rules allow, the company said in a note to U.S. franchisees and employees.

  • Apple said it would close 30 more of its stores in seven states, including California, Georgia and Nevada, adding to the 16 stores already closed around the country. Apple has 271 stores in the United States.

Reporting was contributed by Ben Casselman, Nelson D. Schwartz, Jeanna Smialek, Neal E. Boudette, Alan Rappeport, Niraj Chokshi, Tara Siegel Bernard, Jonah M. Kessel, Matt Phillips, Mohammed Hadi and Jack Nicas.

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