June was essentially a lost month for the nation's unemployed millions.
Employers added a mere 18,000 nonfarm jobs to their payrolls last month, resulting in the official U.S. unemployment rate rising one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.2%.
June's low hiring rate followed a similarly disappointing May, when U.S. employers hired 54,000 people. Job applicants had much better success in February, March and April, when hiring activity approached or exceeded the 200,000 mark.
"What I'm seeing is that on the employment side, is that if May was going to be a one-month blip, we now have a two-month blip," said Nancy Sidhu, chief for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
The current unemployment rate of 9.2% calculates to 14.1 million Americans looking for work in June but being unable to find employment.
The headline unemployment rate does not include the 8.6 million Americans working a part-time job, because they were unable to land a full-time job.
The official rate also does not include the 2.7 million jobless who are counted as marginally attached to the workforce, because they did not search for work in June for personal reasons or because they were too discouraged to fill out a job application.
Factoring in the millions of Americans working part time for economic reasons and marginally attached workers brings the U.S. total unemployment rate to 16.2%.
Businesses' unwillingness to hire exhibits a "lack of courage," or at least a perception on the part of employers that the economy is not going to recover sufficiently enough to justify expanded payrolls.
The Conference Board, a national business research group, similarly reported Friday that "weak labor and housing markets are the biggest impediments in generating momentum this summer."
The reluctance to hire can be contagious.
"Employers, worried about maintaining margins in the face of sluggish domestic demand, are turning cautious about adding to payrolls," The Conference Board said. "This degree of shared caution could remain in evidence right through Labor Day."
Among sectors, leisure and hospitality employers added 34,000 jobs in June. Business and professional services added 24,000 jobs and health care 14,000 jobs.
Construction and manufacturing hiring was essentially flat in June, the government reported.
Government employment continued to decrease. Public-sector employees cut 39,000 jobs in June.
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