Better Wages                     


By Isaac Cohen*

The vigorous creation of 850,000 new jobs in June in the US, a figure not seen since last August, led to an improvement of 3.6 percent in hourly wages from a year earlier and 0.3 percent from the previous month. Figures revealed last week by the Labor Department showed the main beneficiaries were mostly low wage earners in the hospitality and leisure sector, which gained 343,000 new jobs, one fourth of all jobs created last month. Hourly wages in the hospitality sector, which has high concentration of Hispanic workers, increased 7.9 percent in June, from the level reached before the pandemic.

Vaccinations and lifted restrictions are contributing to a strong increase in the demand for services and to complaints among employers about difficulties to hire workers. Also, several state governors have decided to eliminate the federal supplement to jobless insurance benefits, of $300 per month, before it expires in September.

Most of the sectors hurt by the pandemic are coming back to normal, but 6.8 million remain unemployed, with four out of each ten unemployed for more than six months. Also in June, the unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent, from 5.8 percent in May, while the number of those working or looking for a job, known as the labor force participation rate, remained without change at 61.6 percent, less than 63.3 percent at the start of 2020.

*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.

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