Research - JUNE 2, 2017

U.S. adds 138,000 jobs in May

by Loretta Clodfelter

The United States added 138,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total is lower than the consensus forecast of approximately 180,000 jobs. In addition, the April and March job totals have been revised downward to 174,000 and 50,000, respectively.

Initial market reaction to the report was one of disappointment, as the report indicates weaker than expected job growth in recent months. The past three months have had an average job growth of 121,000 per month.

In addition, the economy is struggling to incorporate people who are marginally attached to the labor force — a group that totaled 1.5 million people in May and were not counted as unemployed, as they had not looked for work in the past four weeks. The unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in May, but labor force participation fell 20 basis points to 62.7 percent, while the employment-population ratio dropped to 60.0 percent.

The strongest employment categories in May were healthcare (added 24,000 jobs), professional and business services (added 38,000 jobs), and food services and drinking places (added 30,000 jobs). Other major industries showed little change during the month, according to the BLS.

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