Amazon.com is adding more than 7,000 jobs, mainly at order centers in California, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and elsewhere.
— Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer and Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer
SHRINKING GOVERNMENT JOBS
As an employer, the government isn't helping.
The number of jobs at all levels of government fell 4,000 in June. Only local governments added jobs — and it was a scant 4,000. State governments cut 1,000 jobs. They shed 13,000 in the April-June quarter.
"In the first quarter it looked like state and local government job losses were coming to an end," says Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. "That turned out to be a temporary halt... Apparently, there's no end in sight."
The federal government cut 7,000 jobs in June. It hasn't added jobs since March 2011.
— Paul Wiseman, AP Economics Writer
A BROADER GAUGE OF PAIN
The unemployment rate doesn't fully capture the breadth of the jobs crisis.
A more inclusive measure is known as the "underemployment rate." And it worsened again in June.
This measure includes not only the unemployed but also people who want jobs but have stopped looking for them and part-time workers who want full-time jobs.
The underemployment rate rose to 14.9 percent in June — up from 14.8 percent in May and 14.5 percent in April.
'FISCAL CLIFF' KEEPS EMPLOYERS ON EDGE
The job market could get even weaker once 2012 ends.
Unless Congress intervenes by then, income tax cuts will expire and $100 billion in spending cuts will kick in. This would push the economy off a " fiscal cliff" and land it in another recession, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Jobs would become even scarcer.
A last-minute reprieve is likely, according to many political analysts. But until then, uncertainty is making employers reluctant to hire. More than three-fourths of the 32 economists surveyed by the AP last week described the fiscal cliff as a "major" risk.
CUSHIONING THE PAIN
When the job market and the economy weaken, energy prices tend to drop. That means relief for businesses and consumers.
Lower oil prices mean cheaper diesel and jet fuel for shippers and airlines. Falling gasoline prices give drivers more money to spend on things like cars, appliances and vacations that fuel economic growth.
Oil has fallen 21 percent from its peak in late February — to $87.22 barrel. And gasoline now costs $3.34 a gallon, down 15 percent from early April.
As the U.S. and European economies struggle, oil demand is expected to weaken in the second half of the year. The U.S. is the world's biggest oil consumer, and the prospect of less demand tends to lower prices.
AS FOR THE GOOD NEWS...
Average hourly pay rose 6 cents in June — the biggest gain in nearly a year. Hourly pay has risen 2 percent in the past 12 months. It's slightly outpacing low inflation, which has been held back by lower gas prices.
The construction industry added jobs for the first time in five months. The gain was small — 2,000 jobs — but it could rise in coming months because builders are breaking ground on more homes. And spending on commercial construction is up.
Manufacturers added jobs for a ninth straight month. The average work week grew. And companies hired 25,000 temporary workers.
Economists say those are generally signs that hiring will increase in the months ahead.
That said, job growth will likely stay too weak to drive down unemployment significantly.
— Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer
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