The June report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed more people earning paychecks, but unemployment rates still exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.

“The report was considerably more positive than most pre-report estimates anticipated, suggesting that the recovery in June from COVID-related shutdowns was stronger than expected,” said John Anderson, head of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

“The headline number from the report was an increase in total non-farm payroll employment of 4.8 million persons,” he said. “This follows an increase of 2.7 million in May.

“This two-month gain in employment of 7.5 million people is unprecedented in the employment data for the entire” post-World War II period, Anderson said. “Unfortunately, it follows a two-month, March-April period in which an-also-unprecedented 22.2 million people lost their jobs.”

While employment remained well below its pre-COVID level, “it has, nonetheless, recovered considerably more rapidly than most observers expected,” he said.

June’s employment gains translated into a drop of 2.2 percentage points in the national unemployment rate, which stood at 11.1 percent. It’s the highest rate of the post-war period. Only December 1982 comes close at 10.8 percent.

The June unemployment rate for Arkansas hadn’t yet been released. The April unemployment rate in Arkansas was 10.8 percent, but fell to 9.5 percent in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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