May jobs report shows US employers added 390,000 jobs despite fears of slowdown

The unemployment rate stands at 3.6%, slightly higher than the half-century low recorded in February 2020, before the pandemic hit.

While the number of jobs added has decreased compared to the revised total out of 436,000 in April, much better than forecast. The consensus of economists surveyed by Reuters is that 325,000 jobs have been achieved. And while the unemployment rate did not fall to 3.5% as predicted, it remains at a level considered by many economists to be full employment.

The report is issued at the time of fear of a growing recessionpartly because Federal Reserve are in the process of raising interest rates to try to contain inflation. Higher rates may cause businesses withdraw on expansion and investment plans, including hiring.

Employment growth is common, with 69% of industries tracked by the Labor Department adding workers. The big exception is retail, the nation’s largest sector in terms of employment. According to the report, in May, there was a net loss of 60,700 retail jobs.

Automakers and their parts suppliers also lost 3,500 jobs as factories had to temporarily close or reduce shifts due to lack of computer chips and other materials needed to build cars and trucks.
The biggest job gains came in the leisure and hospitality sectors, with 84,000 jobs predicted strong summer travel seasondue to pent-up demand from people wanting to go on vacation.
Employers have been able to add jobs despite the shortage of workers looking for positions. There are almost two job opportunities for every job seekeraccording to a separate survey by the Department of Labor.

The shortage of available workers helped boost median wages in Friday’s jobs report. The average hourly wage was $31.95, up 5.2% from a year ago. But this is slightly lower than the year-on-year growth rate over the past seven months. And it’s less than the rate at which prices are rising consumers pay for everything from gas to groceries, meaning larger wages haven’t kept pace with inflation.

This story will be updated.

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