Storm clouds hovering above Europe, the U.S. debt overhang, and feeble housing market economics continued to hobble the prospect of improvement in the U.S. job market in June. Non-farm payroll employment showed tepid growth, and edged up by a mere 80,000 jobs, leaving the overall unemployment rate essentially unchanged at 8.2 per cent.

This dismal monthly statistics, which is entirely in line with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s earlier decision to hold federal rates low until 2014, may dampen the spirits of the Obama administration in an election year, especially as nearly 13 million people are without work.

Leaving little doubt that the stagnant unemployment rate was becoming a hot campaign issue in the run-up to November poll, Andrea Saul, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s press spokesperson, said in a tweet, “This is weakest job adding quarter in two years.

“Still more Americans unemployed than when Obama took office.”

Not missing the political context for the jobs figures released on Friday by the Bureau of Labour Statistics Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, focussed on the position of the manufacturing sector, where employment growth was strongest and 11,000 new jobs were added.

Tax incentives

Using the opportunity to strike a blow against outsourcing Mr. Krueger said, “To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and discourage sending jobs overseas.”

Sectors showing marginal improvement in job creation were professional and business services, which added 47,000 jobs; management and technical consulting services, which added 9,000 jobs; computer systems design and related services, which added 7,000 jobs; motor vehicles and parts which added 7,000 jobs; fabricated metal products, which added 5,000 jobs; healthcare which added 13,000 jobs; and wholesale trade, which added 9,000 jobs.

Other major industries

In other major industries, such as mining and logging, construction, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, employment showed little or no change, the BLS noted.

African-Americans comprised the only major ethnic group for whom unemployment ticked upwards, to 14.4 per cent.