US employers sharply stepped up their hiring in June, adding a robust 224,000 jobs, an indication of the economy's durability after more than a decade of expansion, per the AP. Analysts expected a gain of 165,000. The strength of the jobs report the Labor Department issued Friday could complicate a decision for the Federal Reserve late this month on whether to cut interest rates to help support the economy. Most investors anticipate a rate cut. Last month's solid job growth followed a tepid gain of 72,000 jobs in May, a result that had raised concern about the economy. The burst of hiring in June may indicate that many employers have shrugged off concerns about weaker global growth, President Trump's trade wars, and the waning benefits from US tax cuts.
"The trend of slower job growth is obvious, but the June figure was certainly a pleasant surprise and makes the Fed's decision in a few weeks that much more difficult," says Peter Boockvar of Bleakley Advisory Group, per the Wall Street Journal. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7% in June from 3.6% for the previous two months, reflecting an influx of people seeking jobs who were initially counted as unemployed. Average hourly wages rose 3.1% from a year ago. The Fed has expressed concern about threats to the economy, especially from Trump's trade wars, and about inflation remaining persistently below its 2% target level. A rate cut would be the Fed's first in more than a decade. (More jobs report stories.)