Our nation's labor market added 80,000 jobs in the month of June, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2 percent.
We have seen 28 straight months of private sector job growth, during which time our economy has added back close to 4.4 million private sector jobs, with nearly one million jobs added this year. We have added an average of 150,000 private sector jobs per month in 2012, continuing at the same steady pace as last year and with jobs being created across all sectors and regions of the country. Gross domestic product growth has now been positive for 11 consecutive quarters. We remain on a path toward stable and durable growth.
We continue to face headwinds from the threat of recession in Europe, our largest trading partner. Though less demand from across the ocean could present challenges for our exporters as they work to create jobs here at home, U.S. exports to the European Union in the first quarter of the year were at the highest level since 1997. Also, fortunately, there are signs that European leaders are moving away from an austerity approach and toward stabilization and growth strategies that will have a positive impact on our own recovery and ease concerns at home.
I'm encouraged by several developments here at home that will reduce uncertainty and help put more Americans back to work. Passage of a bipartisan highway bill shows Congress can work together to boost hiring in the construction sector. Approval of student loan relief will help more people finish their education and get the skills to make them employable in today's competitive labor market. And the Supreme Court's health care ruling will allow businesses to plan long-term strategies that will lead to more healthy workers who are critical to a healthy economy.
This administration continues to work to promote the return of good jobs back to American communities. As wages spike in countries like China, more companies are discovering a cost advantage of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. That's why it's so important for Congress to encourage this in-sourcing trend and pass legislation to provide incentives for companies to bring jobs home and embrace the "Made in the USA' label.
While the private sector is creating jobs and corporate profits have never been higher, a big drag on our economy is the continued layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers. We should embrace the president's proposal to put these Americans back to work, while giving additional tax cuts to small businesses that are key contributors to job creation.