U.S. Adds 138,000 Jobs in May; Unemployment Dips Slightly

By Roy Maurer Jun 2, 2017

The U.S. economy grew by 138,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate ticked lower to 4.3 percent, the lowest it's been in a decade.

Significant job gains occurred in professional and business services (38,000 jobs), food services (30,000 jobs) and health care (24,000 jobs). The mining sector added 7,000 jobs in May, adding to a total of 47,000 new jobs since reaching a recent low point in October 2016.

However, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade all showed little change, which are areas that can provide middle-income opportunity.

The report adds evidence that the labor market is plateauing, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for job search engine Indeed. "Excluding weather-sensitive industries, job growth has been on a slight downward trend since last summer," Kolko said. "And prime-age labor force participation has stuck within the same range since last fall, making it harder to argue that slack remains in the labor market. Despite the political attention on manufacturing, service sectors led payroll growth in May. Manufacturing jobs fell slightly to its lowest share of U.S. jobs ever."

Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers rose by 4 cents in May to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent.

Since January, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.5 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has decreased by 774,000, according to the report.

The unemployment rates for adult men (3.8 percent), adult women (4.0 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), blacks (7.5 percent), Hispanics (5.2 percent) and teenagers (14.3 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for whites edged down to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) sits at 1.7 million and accounts for 24 percent of the unemployed.

The number of individuals categorized as involuntary part-time workers—those seeking full-time employment but working part time—held at 5.2 million in May.

Additionally, 1.5 million people were considered marginally attached to the labor force—that is, they are unemployed but want and are available to work, and had looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months. Among this group, 355,000 individuals were considered discouraged—not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The remaining 1.1 million people marginally attached to the labor force in May had not searched for work in the past month for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities, according to the BLS.

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