May jobs report: 4 things to know

Posted June 03, 2017

This is a new post-crisis low for the unemployment rate - which is now at its lowest level since May 2001 - while headline job gains missed expectations.

In addition, the labor force dropped by 429,000 and labor force participation, which has been hovering near 40-year lows, dropped to 62.7 percent from 62.9 percent.

Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. 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. Today's narrative would give credence to those business owners who've said for awhile now that finding people to fill job openings has gotten much more hard as skill-sets grow stricter and unemployed workforce participants don't possess the desired capabilities to satisfy the positions. 608,000 people dropped out of the labor force between April and May. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3% from the prior month's 4.4% reading. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not now looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

Average hourly earnings were $26.22 last month, rising 2.5% over the year.

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The jobs numbers probably clear the path for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates later this month. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find a full-time job. Data on consumer spending and manufacturing suggest the economy gained speed early in the second quarter after gross domestic product increased at a tepid 1.2 per cent annualized rate at the start of the year. The U-6 has declined since January, an encouraging sign that jobless people who had given up hope of working are now being hired.

The report adds evidence that the labor market is plateauing, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for job search engine Indeed. March's weak 79,000 got sliced down to 50,000, while the April number declined to 174,000 from 211,000. "Manufacturing jobs fell slightly to its lowest share of U.S.jobs ever".

Construction companies increased their payrolls by 11,000 in May after shedding 1,000 positions the previous month.

That would keep the year-on-year increase in wages at 2.5 percent.

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Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: +0.2%.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, head of the American Action Forum, said that while the unemployment rate fell, the report's household survey showed that employment fell by 233,000.

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.

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