US employers add 138000 jobs; rate dips to 4.3 percent

The number of unemployed individuals declined by 233,000 in May and the percentage of 4.3 percent has not been this low since May 2001, 16 years ago.

While the drop in the jobless rate in May looks like good news, it also reflects the fact that some workers left the labor force, with the closely-watched labor force participation rate falling 0.2 points to 62.7 percent.

The government said the job figure was well below the average monthly gain of 181,000 during the prior 12-month period. The broadest gauge includes not only the officially unemployed but also part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs and people who want a job but aren't actively looking for one and so aren't counted as unemployed.

The growth rate of US has slowed down in the month of May and, the employment gains are not as strong as prior two months like previously reported. The labour force participation rate was 62.7%, retreating from earlier this year. "The weak job growth number isn't a disaster because it still keeps up with population growth", said Paul Diggle, senior economist at Aberdeen Asset Management.

The 4.4 percent unemployment rate matches a decade low.

Annual growth in average hourly earnings was a so-so 2.6 percent in April.

The jobs report was the last major economic indicator to be released before Federal Reserve monetary policymakers gather in Washington on June 13 to decide whether to raise their key short-term interest rate.

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Construction added 11,000 jobs while mining added 7,000. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in May had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. The U-6 has declined since January to 8.4 percent, an encouraging sign that jobless people who had given up hope of working are now being hired.

Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: +0.2%. Ford Motor Co said last month it planned to cut 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia through voluntary early retirement and other financial incentives.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday night assured Americans that France still has their backs, even though President Trump made a decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. But Jim O'Sullivan, chief USA economist of High Frequency Economics, noted that seasonal adjustments can be especially tricky in May, prompting him to forecast just 140,000 employment gains.

The labor market was largely expected to return to form last month after volatile weather made for sharp gyrations the first five months of the year.

But payrolls increased by just 138,000.

And there were some bright spots in May's jobs report.

The private-sector job creation figure reported Thursday by payroll firm Automatic Data Processing far exceeded analyst expectations and was well above the downwardly revised 174,000 net new positions added in April.

  • Rita Burton