The silver lining in June's dismal jobs report

Unemployment remains stagnant and job creation disappointing, but economist Michael Darda points out signs of slow yet promising progress.
CBS News

(CBS News) BOSTON - The recession officially ended three years ago, but Friday's jobs report is more proof the recovery is painfully slow.

The June unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, unchanged from May. Employers added just 80,000 jobs.

That's three straight months of disappointing job creation. After a four-month stretch where growth was in the hundreds of thousands, it was the main issue today on the presidential campaign trail.

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Our economy needs to add at least 125,000 new jobs every month just to keep up with population growth. At this pace it could take four more years for the U.S. job market to fully recover from the Great Recession

Mark DiNapoli, a general manager at the Suffolk Construction Company in Boston, just hired 122 people to work on six new projects.

"The men and women in the trades, a lot of them have been without work a long time," DiNapoli said. "We are seeing now after a year and half, two years, that they are really welcoming these opportunities."

But despite the modest pick-up in Boston construction, the number of unemployed Americans and the unemployment rate have basically stayed the same since February.

Michael Darda, a chief economist at MKM Partners, said there is a silver lining in today's lackluster report.

"I don't think we should fall into the trap of thinking that we're headed straight down, that's not the case," Darda said. "We're making progress -- it's just not fast enough to make everybody happy."

Workers added more hours to their week (up 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours) and wages increased slightly (up 0.06 an hour to $23.50 an hour) -- a possible sign of future job growth.

"If we can get a few more months of better jobs figures, those things could self reinforce each other and create a positive feedback loop helping to push the business cycle forward," Darda said.

Back in Boston, DiNapoli plans to keep adding jobs. His company's projects outnumber what they had at the height of the building boom in 2007.

"It is just wonderful to see a project of this nature and many others take off in this city," DiNapoli said.

The broader measure of unemployment numbers, which includes those who have given up their job search and have been forced to work part time, is $14.9 percent -- the highest level since February.