U.S. employment increased by 222,000 in June, topping expectations. The jobless rate ticked up 0.1% to 4.4% from a 16-year low in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Job growth rose in health care, social assistance and financial activities.
Employment growth has averaged 180,000 per month this year, not far off from the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected employers to add 174,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 4.3%.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates were little changed for adult men (4.0%), adult women (4.0%), teens (13.3%), whites (3.8%), blacks (7.1%), Asians (3.6%) and Hispanics (4.8%).
Health care added 37,000 jobs, and that sector has added an average of 24,000 jobs per month in the first half of 2017, compared with a monthly average of 32,000 jobs last year.
Social assistance employment increased by 23,000 in June and has added 115,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
Employment in financial activities rose by 17,000 in June and has grown by 169,000 over the year.
Jobs in professional and business services gained 35,000 in June and have added 624,000 over the past 12 months.
Employment in food services and drinking places also continued to increase in June, gaining 29,000. The industry has added 277,000 jobs over the year.
The government revised job numbers in April and May, posting combined employment gains of 47,000 more than previously reported.
The number of long-term unemployed — those jobless for 27 weeks or more — was unchanged at 1.7 million in June and accounted for 24.3% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 322,000.
The labor force participation rate, which has been near four-decade lows, was 62.8% in June, little changed, and has shown no clear trend over the past year. The employment-population ratio of 60.1% was also little changed in June. Last month, 1.6 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 197,000 from a year earlier.
The average workweek rose by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in June. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by four cents to $26.25. Over the year, average hourly earnings, a closely watched category, have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5%.