KANSAS CITY, MO — Hiring surged in the U.S. in June and average hourly wages increased as more Americans return to a pre-pandemic way of life. However, the country still has a long way to go before pandemic job losses are fully reversed.
The U.S. added 850,000 non-farm jobs in June, which was the largest monthly increase since August 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total payroll employment is up 15.6 million jobs since April 2020. However, the country is still down 6.8 million jobs (4.4 percent) from pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 percent between May and June.
The unemployment rate in the Kansas City area has largely improved since the beginning of the pandemic, but the rate increased from April to May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. May figures are the most recent for local unemployment.
The Jackson County unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in May, up from 5.2 percent in April. That reflected significant improvement from May 2020, when the unemployment rate stood at 11.5 percent.
The Jackson County May unemployment rate is higher than Missouri’s 4.7 percent rate, according to the latest local figures from the BLS.
Nationally, the leisure and hospitality industry added 343,000 positions in June in a sign that more Americans are ready to return to restaurants, bars and vacation spots. Employment in the industry still has a long way to recover, with positions down 12.9 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
Average hourly earnings continue to climb as employers offer more money in an effort to fill positions. The average hourly earning was $30.40 in June, up 10 cents from May. Average hourly wages are up 43 cents since April.
President Joe Biden celebrated the report and said the country is rapidly recovering from the pandemic’s economic damage.
“Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, employers are competing with each other to attract workers,” he said in a statement.