US Employers Add 175K Jobs, Rate Up to 7.6 Percent
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is adding jobs at a steady pace — enough to show strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts if not enough to reduce still-high unemployment.
Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters found jobs.
The government revised the job figures for the previous two months. April’s gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000. March’s was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000. The net loss was 12,000 jobs.
Investors appeared pleased by the evidence that job growth remains steady. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 200 points in late-morning trading.
Friday’s job figures provided further evidence of the U.S. economy’s resilience. The housing market is strengthening, auto sales are up and consumer confidence has reached a five-year peak. Stock prices are near record highs, and the budget deficit has shrunk.
The U.S. economy’s relative strength contrasts with Europe, which is gripped by recession, and Asia, where once-explosive economies are now struggling.
Many analysts expect the U.S. economy to strengthen later this year.
‘‘Today’s report has to be encouraging for growth in the second half of the year,’’ said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG LLC.
It also eased worries that had arisen after economic reports earlier this week had suggested that the economy might be weakening.
Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs the past three months. But the May gain almost exactly matched the average increase of the previous 12 months: 172,000.
Analysts said the less-than-robust job growth would likely lead the Federal Reserve to maintain the pace of its monthly bond purchases for at least a few more months. The Fed has said it will keep buying bonds at the same rate until the job market improves substantially. The bond purchases have helped drive down interest rates and boost stock prices.
Stock markets have gyrated in the past two weeks on speculation that the Fed would soon start to taper its $85 billion-a-month in bond buying — a step that could raise rates and cause stock prices to fall.
‘‘I think the Fed will stay on hold,’’ said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight. ‘‘They want to see numbers above 200,000 on payroll jobs on a consistent basis before they start to taper off.’’
Behravesh said he thinks the Fed will maintain its pace of bond buying through this year before scaling it back in 2014.
‘‘Today’s report is perhaps the perfect number for nervous investors,’’ said James Marple, Senior Economist at TD Economics. ‘‘It is strong enough to point to continued economic recovery but not so strong as to bring forward expectations of Fed tapering.’’
Other analysts who have predicted that the Fed would start trimming its bond purchases later this year said they didn’t think Friday’s jobs report would change that timetable.
John Canally, an economist at LPL Financial, blames the Federal Reserve for not specifying how much monthly job growth it wants to see before it scales back its bond buying.
‘‘They have not been transparent enough,’’ Canally said. ‘‘That is what has unhinged markets.’’
Some signs in the report suggested that the spending cuts and weaker global growth are weighing on the job market. Manufacturers cut 8,000 jobs, and the federal government shed 14,000. Both were the third straight month of cuts for those industries.
The number of temporary jobs rose about 26,000, the second straight month of strong gains. That suggests that employers are responding to more demand but aren’t confident enough to hire permanent workers. Many temporary employees work in manufacturing, which cut permanent jobs.
But industries that rely directly on consumer spending hired at a healthy pace — a sign of confidence that consumers will keep spending. Retailers added 28,000 jobs. Restaurants and hotels added 33,000.
Average hourly wages ticked up just a penny in May, to $23.89. That was because much of the job growth was in lower-paying industries.
But mild inflation is boosting American’s purchasing power. Over the past 12 months, hourly wages have risen 2 percent. Inflation has increased just 1.1 percent in that time.
The economy grew at a solid annual rate of 2.4 percent in the first three months of the year. Consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in more than two years. But economists worry that the steep government spending cuts and higher Social Security taxes might be slowing growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate of 2 percent or less.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Last Update on July 02, 2015 17:44 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but the level of applications is still low and points to an improving job market.
The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, ticked up 1,000 to 274,750.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Even with the increase, they remain far below 300,000, a historically low level that indicates companies are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their workers. That confidence can also cause them to hire more people.
Consumers have stepped up spending on clothing, furniture and cars, spurring faster growth. Home sales have also accelerated and are now running at the highest level in eight years.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell in May by the largest amount in three months, while a key category that signals business investment plans dropped for a second month.
The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 1 percent in May from April, when orders retreated 0.7 percent. Orders in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment were down 0.4 percent after a 0.7 percent decline in April.
Much of the weakness in May reflected a big 35.3 percent fall in demand for commercial aircraft.
But even outside of the volatile transportation category, orders were up only a tiny 0.1 percent. The weak showing suggests that manufacturing is still struggling with challenges such as lower energy prices and a strong dollar, which dampens exports.
GULF OIL SPILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Officials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have announced an $18.7 billion settlement with BP that resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Thursday's settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties after well over 125 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf.
BP has said its spill-related costs already exceed $42 billion -- even without the Clean Water Act fine. It's also unclear how much BP will end up paying under a 2012 settlement with individuals and businesses claiming spill-related losses.
The spill resulted from the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers.
IMF blames Greece govt for predicament; says nation needs debt relief, $56 billion
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund says Greece needs $56 billion in new financing from October through 2018 because Athens has been slow to enact economic reforms.
The analysis was made before Greece closed its banks and defaulted on IMF loans earlier this week. The outlook is worse now.
Greece's government plans to put austerity measures to voters on Sunday after European creditors rejected its latest proposal for a new aid program.
In Athens today, reporters asked Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (YAH'-nihs vah-roo-FAH'-kihs) whether Greeks can expect banks to reopen after Sunday's referendum. He resonded, "Of course!" and when asked when said: "On Tuesday."
He called a deal between Greece and its creditors "a certainty," adding: "Doesn't Europe know what is in its best interest?"
European leaders have said if the vote goes Varuoufakis' way and Greeks reject creditors' demands, Greece will face financial chaos and eventually be pushed out of the 19-nation eurozone.
FIAT CHRYSLER-RECALL HEARING
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top U.S. auto safety regulator says that Fiat Chrysler failed to provide timely and accurate recall information to her agency and that customers also have problems getting accurate information.
Jennifer Timian, acting director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's defect investigation office, made the remarks Thursday to start a public hearing on the company's recall performance.
She says the problems are widespread and involve slow response to vehicle defects that have caused deaths and injuries.
The agency called the rare hearing to listen to evidence that Fiat Chrysler misbehaved on 23 recalls involving more than 11 million vehicles. NHTSA alleges that the company didn't notify car owners quickly enough, failed to make replacement parts or repairs fast enough, and didn't file paperwork on time in numerous instances.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Ford is recalling 433,000 vehicles, including 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape models, because of a software problem that could keep their engines running after drivers try to shut them down.
Ford Motor Co. says there is a flaw in the body control module software in the vehicles. As a result of the problem, the engine could keep running after the key is turned to "off" and removed, or after the start/stop button is pressed to turn the engine off.
The company says no injuries or accidents have been associated with the problem. Ford says dealers will update the software at no cost to consumers.
The recall affects about 375,000 cars in the U.S., 52,000 in Canada and 5,000 in Mexico.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia has legalized and plans to tax Airbnb and other short-term rentals ahead of Pope Francis' visit in September and next year's Democratic National Convention.
Airbnb says the city on Wednesday became the nation's largest to legalize rentals through online marketplaces. It joins San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, among cities authorizing the transactions.
Philadelphia also changed zoning rules to allow rentals in residential areas and is subjecting them to an 8 1/2 percent hotel tax. The rentals had been operating tax free.
City Councilman William Greenlee says Airbnb-type rentals are essentially short-term hotels and should be made to follow the same rules.
A permit is required for rentals lasting more than 30 days. The city says homes can't be rented out for more than 180 days per year.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week, reaching high levels for the year.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.08 percent this week from 4.02 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.24 percent from 3.21 percent.
Mortgage rates have increased in recent weeks, in the midst of the spring home buying season, as the economy has shown signs of improvement.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Reelz channel is coming to the rescue of Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant.
Reelz said Thursday it will carry the pageant that was dropped by NBC after Trump made critical comments about immigrants from Mexico.
In a statement, Reelz chief executive Stan E. Hubbard said the company believes the Miss USA pageant and its contestants are an "integral" part of American tradition.
Reelz, an independent cable and satellite network, decided to exercise its own voice and bring the pageant to viewers, Hubbard said.
He made no mention of Trump, who has faced criticism and lost business deals since making his comments during his presidential campaign announcement last month.
Reelz said Miss USA will be televised Sunday, July 12, the originally scheduled date.
CENTENE-HEALTH NET ACQUISITION
UNDATED (AP) -- Medicaid coverage provider Centene is spending about $6.3 billion to buy fellow insurer Health Net, as managed care companies look to bulk up while adjusting to the federal health care overhaul.
St. Louis-based Centene Corp. said Thursday it will pay a combination of cash and stock valued at $78.57, based on Wednesday's closing price, for each Health Net share. That's a premium of about 21 percent over Health Net's closing price of $65.06. The deal totals about $6.8 billion counting debt.
Both companies' boards have approved the acquisition, which is expected to close early next year.
Health Net Inc., based in Woodland Hills, Calif., gives Centene a chance to increase its enrollment in Medicaid coverage, the state and federal program for the poor and people with disabilities. The overhaul expands Medicaid coverage for millions of people.
CYSTIC FIBROSIS DRUG-FDA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials have approved a new combination drug for the most common form of cystic fibrosis, the debilitating inherited disease that causes internal mucus buildup, lung infections and early death.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the twice-a-day pill from Vertex Pharmaceuticals for a variation of cystic fibrosis that affects about 8,500 people in the U.S. who are 12 years and older. The approval notice was posted to the agency's website.
The new drug, to be sold as Orkambi (or-KAM-bee), is Vertex's follow-up to its breakthrough pill Kalydeco (kuh-LYE-deh-koh), which became the first drug to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis in 2012. Orkambi combines Kalydeco with another new drug ingredient.
Kalydeco is only approved for a cluster of rare forms of cystic fibrosis.
PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Tesla's second-quarter deliveries surged 52 percent to set a company record exceeding 11,000 vehicles.
The Palo Alto, California, electric car maker surpassed 10,000 vehicles for the first time in the first three months of the year and on Thursday said it had broken that record, delivering 11,507 vehicles.
Tesla makes only one car, the Model S sedan, but CEO Elon Musk said last month he expects to begin deliveries of an SUV, the Model X, in three or four months.
Tesla cautioned Thursday that record deliveries are not an indicator of overall financial results. The company has consistently lost money as it ramps up production. Despite record sales in the first quarter, the company lost $154 million.
Shares of Tesla Motors, Inc. are up 2 percent before the opening bell.
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