These sectors showing biggest gains in payrolls, paychecks

doctor health care examination
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U.S. employers were still in a hiring mood last month, but job hunters in some industries did a lot better than others.

The government's monthly status report Friday on the employment market showed a surge in hiring last month, after payroll growth all but halted in May.

Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 287,000 jobs in June, the biggest monthly gain since last October, the Labor Department said. The payroll count for May was cut to a gain of just 11,000, rather than the previously reported 38,000.

Economists are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what some see as a statistical glitch in the government's main job market survey.

"How should one act on these numbers? Cautiously, because they are imprecise," IHS Global Insights economists wrote in a note to clients Friday.

They noted that the margin of error for the widely watched employment report is plus or minus 115,000. That means there's a 90 percent chance that payrolls rose by between 172,000 and 402,000 last month, they said.

Though imprecise, the report offers insights into which sectors of the economy are adding the most jobs.

Health-care and social assistance providers added 58,000 net new jobs in June, and the leisure and hospitality sector gained 59,000 jobs. Manufacturing employment increased 14,000 last month after shedding 16,000 jobs in May, according to the government data. The retail sector added 29,900 jobs.

Construction payrolls were unchanged after two months of declines. The return of 35,100 Verizon workers, who were excluded from May's payroll count while on a monthlong strike, boosted information sector employment last month.

With a relatively large margin of error, many economists prefer to look at three-month averages to smooth out monthly variations.

On a three-month basis, the education, health and professional service sectors have been the biggest job creators. Construction, mining and logging, and goods producers have been shedding jobs.

Wage gains in June were fairly sluggish, though average hourly earnings are up 2.6 percent from a year ago, the highest level since the Great Recession.

Those gains have also varied widely from one sector to another. Manufacturing workers have seen their weekly paycheck rise by 3.6 percent in the last 12 months; for those in the non-durable-goods sector, weekly wages are up 4.5 percent. Information workers have seen weekly wages rise by 3.6 percent.

Despite the relatively strong pace of hiring, education and health-care workers have seen weekly wages rise by just 1.9 percent. For those in retail, weekly wage gains have averaged just 1.7 percent.

Hiring is expected to remain strong in some of the services sectors that are showing the biggest gains, according to a separate monthly government report that tracks job openings and labor turnover.

The survey looks at the number of job openings as a share of total employment in a given sector, providing some indication of where the demand for workers is running ahead of the supply of able, qualified applicants.

Based on those numbers, demand is strongest for workers in the health-care, social assistance, food services, education, and leisure and hospitality sectors. Job openings represented a 5 percent share of total employment as of April, the latest data available for the so-called Jolts survey.

State and local government and education, along with mining and logging, have the fewest job openings relative to total employment, at about 2 percent or less.