(Washington) The job market remained solid in June in the United States, with the unemployment rate down slightly to 3.6%, which is still historically low, but job creations were less numerous than expected.

In the past month, 209,000 jobs have been created, the Labor Department announced on Friday, while analysts expected 220,000, according to the consensus published by Briefing.com.

In addition, job creations for April and May have been revised downwards, to 217,000 and 306,000 respectively, i.e., over the two months, 110,000 fewer jobs than initially announced.

Job creations remain driven by public administration, health and social assistance, as well as by construction, detailed the Department of Labor.

But a sign of the current slowdown in a market that is still particularly tight, the average number of jobs created per month over the first six months of the year is significantly lower than the average observed over the whole year. 2022 (respectively 278,000 versus 399,000 jobs on average).

At the same time, the average hourly wage continued to rise, by 0.4% compared to the previous month and 4.4% over one year, slightly above market expectations, which envisaged rather 0.3% of month-on-month increase.

On Thursday, the ADP/Stanford Lab monthly survey announced an unexpected level of job creation in the private sector for the month of June, with 497,000 jobs, well above forecasts but also above the trend observed in previous months, giving some cold sweats in the markets, the New York Stock Exchange having ended in the red.

Investors fear that an overly dynamic job market will prompt the Federal Reserve (Fed) to raise its key rates again at its next meeting in late July.

The Fed has embarked on a more restrictive monetary policy since March 2022 in order to reduce inflation and bring it back to its target of 2%, but the American economy has proved to be more solid than initially envisaged and inflation more persistent than expected.

While the Fed paused at its last meeting in mid-June, its chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly said that the next decisions will be made on the evolution of macro-economic data, anticipating two further rate hikes of here the end of the year.

In May, inflation stood at 3.8% year on year, according to the PCE index published at the end of June, the lowest since mid-2021 but still too high for the Fed.