Saturday, July 3, 2004

Job growth slows to 112,000 in June

By Leigh Strope
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The economy created 112,000 jobs in June, slowing from the torrid pace of the previous three months and raising new misgivings about the strength and endurance of the rebounding jobs market.

The unemployment rate remained at 5.6 percent for a third straight month, the Labor Department said Friday.

June was the 10th straight month of payroll gains, a string that has restored about 1.5 million jobs to U.S. payrolls and shrank overall losses on President Bush's watch to about 1.1 million.

The weaker-than-expected jobs report cast a gloom over Wall Street as investors pondered new questions about the strength of the recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 51.33 points to close at 10,282.83, finishing a second straight losing week.

Job growth was far less than the 250,000 that economists had expected.

"I'm not ready to panic," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa. "But clearly the job market is not as strong as we initially thought."

More than 900,000 jobs were added in the previous three months, buoying expectations for sizable growth in June.

Instead, "the labor market stumbled," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at MFC Global Investment Management.

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