WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - The employment market remained in a spring slump in June as employers added 80,000 jobs.
The nation's unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2% for the second consecutive month, the Labor Department said Friday.
Businesses added 84,000 jobs, while government payrolls fell by 4,000.
A consensus of economists had estimated that payrolls grew by 95,000 jobs last month, including 103,000 in the private sector.
The report also could help determine President Obama's reelection chances because voters' perception of the economy tend to take shape in the summer.
Weak job growth and an unemployment rate stuck above 8% the next few months could work to the advantage of Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. An Associated Press-GfK poll in June found that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of the president's handling of the economy.
Employment for the previous two months was virtually unchanged. April's job gains were revised down to 68,000 from 77,000, while May's number was revised up to 77,000 from 69,000.
The economy has added just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. Job creation is also trailing last year's pace through the first six months of 2012.
Stock futures fell modestly after the report came out. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 24 points before the report at 8:30 a.m., and were down 60 points minutes later.
Yields for government bonds sank, an indication that investors were putting money into the Treasury market. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was 1.59% just before the report and 1.57% after it came out.
A weaker job market has made consumers less confident. They have pulled back on spending, even though gas prices have plunged.
Several reports on the labor market Thursday seemed to brighten the outlook, especially the ADP survey that showed substantially higher private-sector job gains in June than the previous two months.
Chris Jones of TD Economics says Friday's government report could be pivotal in helping the Federal Reserve decide on Aug. 1 whether to buy more securities to lower long-term interest rates and stimulate the economy.
Job growth of less than 100,000 a month, he says, likely would increase the chances of additional Fed stimulus, especially since economic indicators increasingly show inflation is not a concern.
Monthly job growth averaged 252,000 from December through February, raising hopes that a sputtering job market was finally picking up steam. But job gains slowed to a sub-100,000 monthly pace from March through May.
Some economists have attributed the slowdown to warm winter weather that drew construction and manufacturing activity into January and February, but dampened spring hiring. That payback effect is largely over, Jones says.
Still, the economy faces other hurdles. In June, the manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in three years and retail sales were weak, reports this week showed. And the European Central Bank cut interest rates Thursday, underlining that the continent's economy will remain sluggish for some time despite recent signs that officials are prepared to prevent the debt crisis from worsening. That, along with the prospect of higher taxes and reduced government spending in the U.S., has created uncertainy among businesses.
The official jobless rate does not capture the longstanding sluggishness of the job market. The underemployment rate - which includes discouraged job-seekers who have stopped looking for work, part-time workers who prefer full-time jobs and the unemployed - rose to 14.9% in June from the previous month.
And the number of Americans out of work at least six months remained near record high levels at 5.4 million, or 42% of all those unemployed.
There were some mildly positive signs. The average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in May. Employers typically increase the hours of existing employees before hiring additional staff. Average hourly earnings ticked up 6 cents to $23.50.
And the number of temporary employees rose by 25,000. The ranks of such contingent workers also grow before employers bring on new permanent staff.