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As job growth soars, these sectors are seeing the biggest gains

  • The U.S. job market continues to put more Americans back to work, but some sectors are faring better than others.
  • Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the biggest gains have come from three major sectors: professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and education and health care.
  • Workers in information, mining and finance sectors are among the best paid and have seen the strongest gains in their paychecks.
Workers connecting tubes on the Raven Oil Drilling rig near Watford City N.D.
Ken Cedeno | Corbis | Getty Images
Workers connecting tubes on the Raven Oil Drilling rig near Watford City N.D.

Eight years after the end of one of the worst recessions in modern history, the U.S. job market continues to put more Americans back to work.

But some sectors are faring better than others.

Overall, the latest monthly data showed that the economy continues to create new payrolls at a healthy clip. Job growth surged more than expected in June and employers boosted workers' hours, a sign that demand for labor remains strong.

The government reported that nonfarm payrolls jumped by 222,000 jobs in June, beating economists' expectations for a gain of 179,000. The numbers for April and May were bumped up to show there were 47,000 more jobs created than previously reported.

"It was a really good report," said economist Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors. "Just about every major industry added workers, with both the goods-producing and service sectors up."

But since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the biggest gains have come from three major sectors: professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and education and health care.

Earlier in the recovery, retail and manufacturing posted relatively strong rebounds, but those sectors have flattened in the last year. And the government and information sectors have been shedding jobs.

Last month, manufacturing payrolls rose by just 1,000 after factories cut 2,000 jobs in May. U.S. automakers slashed another 1,300 jobs in June as slowing sales and bloated inventories forced production cuts.

The biggest volatility has come in the mining sector, which saw a major hiring boom as U.S. production surged after the recession, only to collapse when oil prices crashed in 2014. Since then, a recovery in crude prices has revived hiring in the oil patch.

Despite the strong pace of hiring, the latest data confirmed why most Americans aren't feeling all that great about the recovery from the Great Recession. Wages are only growing slowly, despite the historically low jobless rate.

Tight labor markets typically put upward pressure on wages as employers find it more difficult to fill jobs and retain workers. But there may be more "slack" in the market than the headline jobless rate would indicate.

That's because there's still a large pool of working-age Americans who want to work but have given up searching or who are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment. When those workers are taken into account, the jobless rate rose to 8.6 percent last month from 8.4 percent in May.

That may help explain why wage growth remains sluggish. Average hourly earnings in June rose just 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, after gaining 0.1 percent in May. Compared with last June, wages are up 2.5 percent.

As with the pace of hiring, some sectors are seeing faster wage growth than others. Workers in information, mining and finance sectors are among the best paid, and have seen the strongest gains in their paychecks.

Workers in retail and the leisure and hospitality group have seen the smallest gains.