The latest national jobs report released Friday shows hiring remains strong with employers adding 339,000 jobs during May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
Wages were 4.3% higher last month than they were a year ago as employers continue competing to attract workers. The largest employment gains were in the professional and business services, government, health care, construction, transportation and warehousing, and the social assistance sectors of the economy.
The unemployment rate also edged up in May to 3.7% from April’s 3.4%. The jobless rate, which is based on household surveys that includes gig workers, not the separate business establishment surveys that capture hiring and wages for traditional jobs, has ranged between 3.7% and 3.4% since March of 2022. The current jobless rate is still far below the 14.7% unemployment recorded in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
The labor force participation rate held at 62.6% in May, and the employment-population ratio, which measures the percentage of the working-age population with jobs, was little changed at 60.3%.
In May, professional and business services added 64,000 jobs, following a similar increase in April. Employment growth continued in professional, scientific, and technical services, which added 43,000 jobs
in May. Government employment increased by 56,000 in May, compared to the average monthly gain of 42,000 over the prior 12 months. Government employment remains 0.9% lower than before the pandemic.
Healthcare added 52,000 jobs in May, similar to average monthly gains of 50,000 in this sector over the prior 12 months. Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in May (+48,000), led by food and drinking establishments (+33,000). In May, construction added 25,000 jobs, including 11,000 jobs in heavy and civil engineering construction. Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 24,000 in May. Jobs in the social assistance sector rose by 22,000 last month.
Employment changed less significantly over the month in other major industries: manufacturing (-2,000); wholesale trade (+1,100); retail trade (+11,000); information (-9,000); financial activities (+10,000); and other services (+10,000).
The BLS also revised its prior preliminary employment data for March (+52,000) and April (+41,000) to be 93,000 higher than previously reported. The employment gains in May marked the 29th consecutive month of jobs gains, the BLS said.
The Federal Reserve, which has been trying to cool the economy with interest rate increases, will be closely monitoring the labor market data ahead of its next monthly policy meeting June 13-14. In May, the central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for the 10th consecutive time but had signaled it may hold interest rates steady when it meets again in June. It is not clear how the latest jobs report might impact the Fed’s thinking.
On Wall Street, stocks opened higher as investors reacted to the news that the U.S. Senate had passed the bill to raise the federal debt ceiling the night before, as well as Friday morning’s Employment Situation Report showing stronger than expected job gains.