The Washington Post/Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job growth came nearly to a halt in June, the federal government said Friday with surprisingly grim new data that challenge expectations that the economy is poised to bounce back from its spring lull.

The disappointing report comes at a sensitive time, as President Obama and Congress engage in high-stakes negotiations over raising the legal cap on the $14.3 trillion federal debt. The weaker job market could make Democrats all the more reluctant to agree to spending cuts that might further slow the economy in the service of reducing long-term budget deficits.


Employers added 18,000 jobs in June, a trivial number in a country with 150 million workers, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent, the Labor Department reported. It was a far worse report than expected: Economists had forecast 105,000 new jobs.

The jobs survey was exceptionally bleak even beyond those headline numbers. Job growth in April and May was revised downward by a combined 44,000 positions. Temporary employers, often a leading indicator of future activity in the labor market, cut 12,000 jobs. And roughly 272,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force, perhaps out of frustration with their job prospects. The unemployment rate would have risen even higher had they continued their job hunts.

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