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Predicted June Job Search Growth Over  07/02 06:21


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. employers likely rehired several million more 
workers in June, thereby reducing a Depression-level unemployment rate, but the 
most up-to-date data suggests that a resurgent coronavirus will limit further 

   Economists have forecast that businesses, governments and nonprofits added 3 
million jobs --- a record high --- and that the unemployment rate fell a full 
percentage point to 12.3%, according to data provider FactSet. The predicted 
hiring gain would be up from 2.5 million jobs in May. Even so, the combined job 
growth for May and June would recover only a fraction of the 22 million jobs 
that were lost in March and April, when the virus forced business shutdowns and 
layoffs across the country.

   And even a jobless rate above 10% wouldn't fully capture the scope of the 
pandemic's damage to the job market and the economy. Millions more people are 
working part time but would prefer full-time work. And an unusually high 
proportion of workers have been subject to pay cuts, research has found.

   With confirmed coronavirus cases spiking across the Sun Belt, a range of 
evidence suggests that a nascent recovery is stalling. In states that are 
suffering the sharpest spikes in reported virus cases --- Texas, Florida, 
Arizona and others --- progress has reversed, with businesses closing again and 
workers losing jobs, in some cases for a second time.

   On Wednesday, California re-closed down bars, theaters and indoor restaurant 
dining across most of the state. And Arizona's outbreak grew more severe by 
nearly every measure. Florida has closed some beaches.

   Credit and debit card data tracked by JPMorgan Chase show that consumers 
have slowed their spending in just the past week, after spending had risen 
steadily in late April and May. The reversal has occurred both in states that 
have seen surges in reported COVID cases and in less affected states, said 
Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan.

   Nationwide, card spending fell nearly 13% last week compared with a year 
ago. That was worse than the previous week, when year-over-year card spending 
had declined just under 10%.

   Real-time data from Homebase, a provider of time-tracking software for small 
businesses, shows that the number of hours worked at its client companies has 
leveled off after having risen sharply in May and early June. Business 
re-openings have also flattened. The economic bounce produced by the initial 
lifting of shutdown orders may have run its course.

   Still, Thursday's jobs report will be based on data gathered in the second 
week of June, so it will still likely reflect an improving hiring trend. Last 
week's plateau in hours worked will instead affect the July jobs figures, to be 
released in early August.

   "Whatever picture the jobs report gives us, things have become worse since 
then," said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter.

   In addition to the renewed shutdowns across the Sun Belt, New York City has 
postponed plans to reopen indoor seating at restaurants in the face of more 
confirmed virus cases. Such moves are causing another round of layoffs or will 
limit future hiring.

   McDonald's has paused its reopening efforts nationwide. And Apple said it 
will re-close 30 more of its U.S. stores, on top of 47 it had already shut down 
for a second time.

   Economists have long warned that the economic benefits of allowing 
businesses to reopen would prove short-lived if the virus wasn't brought under 
control. Until most Americans feel confident enough to dine out, travel, shop 
or congregate in groups without fear of infection, restaurants, hotels and 
retailers won't have enough demand to justify rehiring all their previous 

   "The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will 
depend in large part on our success in containing the virus," Federal Reserve 
Chair Jerome Powell told a House committee this week. "A full recovery is 
unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad 
range of activities."

   Still, some bright spots in the economy may emerge in Thursday's jobs 
report. Manufacturers expanded in June after three months of shrinking, the 
Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said Wednesday. New orders are 
flowing in and factories are adding more jobs, the ISM said.

   And record-low mortgage rates are encouraging more home buyers. Purchases of 
new homes rose sharply in May. And a measure of signed contracts to buy 
existing homes soared by a record amount in May, a sign that sales should 
rebound after falling for three straight months.

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