The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, about 50,000 fewer new jobs than expected,and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.3 percent.
Job gains in health care and mining still left the total increase in employment far lower than expected, forecasting a weaker economy for working people and benefits for the rich, as the impuissant labor report was greeted by record highs on Wall Street but some observers say that pieces are moving into place that foreshadow another economic crash.
“Everything going on in Washington is making life tougher for the average America: tax cuts for the rich, ending health insurance for 50 million citizens, weaker job growth, huge budget deficits and now, the prospect of inflation,” said James J. Devine, a Democratic strategist. “Soaring stock prices are ripe for a fall at least as hard as Ronald Reagan’s 1987 crash, widely known as Black Monday.”
“Massive economic inequality and reckless policy leadership are among the factors that make this a precarious situation, so Americans should be concerned that stocks are soaring while fundamentals are so weak,” said Devine. “Foreclosures remain high, everyone is working without making enough to live, and the White House is trying to pull the rug out from under everything.”
The slower pace of hiring suggests employers are unwilling to add to payrolls in a tight labor market, but the 17-year low in the jobless rate may not be the end of the decline that could bring on worse problems.
“The survey evidence suggests that the standard unemployment rate will drop below 4% soon,” says Capital Economics, a research firm. And because of that likelihood, the Federal Reserve is likely to continue to raise interest rates even with inflation below its 2% target.
That said, the firm did say the May jobless rate was mostly on the back of declining participation, which is not a great reason to see falling unemployment.
Following the Great Recession left to him by President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama’s administration brought about a steady economic recovery with increased private sector job growth for a record 83 consecutive months but
The unemployment rate, at 4.3 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.9 million, changed little in May. Since January, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.5 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has decreased by 774,000.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Whites edged down to 3.7 percent in May. The jobless rates for Blacks (7.5 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), and Hispanics (5.2 percent), as well as those for adult men (3.8 percent), adult women (4.0 percent), and teenagers (14.3 percent), showed little or no change.
Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 211,000 to 3.3 million in May. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged over the month at 1.7 million and accounted for 24.0 percent of the unemployed.
The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.7 percent in May but has shown no clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio edged down to 60.0 percent in May.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.2 million in May.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
In May, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 238,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 355,000 discouraged workers in May, down by
183,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. 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.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, compared with an average
monthly gain of 181,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job gains occurred in health
care and mining. (See table B-1.)
Employment in health care rose by 24,000 in May. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the
month, and employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up (+13,000).
Job growth in health care has averaged 22,000 per month thus far in 2017, compared with
an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.
Mining added 7,000 jobs in May. Employment in mining has risen by 47,000 since reaching
a recent low point in October 2016, with most of the gain in support activities for mining.
In May, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+38,000).
The industry has added an average of 46,000 jobs per month thus far this year, in line
with the average monthly job gain in 2016.
Employment in food services and drinking places also continued to trend up in May (+30,000)
and has grown by 267,000 over the past 12 months.
Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale
trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities,
and government, showed little change over the month.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4
hours in May. In manufacturing, the workweek also was unchanged at 40.7 hours, while
overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.
(See tables B-2 and B-7.)
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4
cents to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5
percent. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory
employees increased by 3 cents to $22.00. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down from +79,000
to +50,000, and the change for April was revised down from +211,000 to +174,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 66,000 less than
previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged
121,000 per month.
Republicans in Congress stripped virtually all of the “Buy American” provisions from a water project infrastructure bill known as the Water Resources Development Act.
Republican members of Congress that their current party leader, Donald Trump, campaigned for President on an anti-trade, buy American platform. In a little reported action taken by House Republicans late last year, the House GOP stripped virtually all of the “Buy American” provisions from a water project infrastructure bill known as the Water Resources Development Act.
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