Nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+54,000) in May, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains continued in professional and business services, health care, and mining. Employment levels in other major private-sector industries were little changed, and local government employment continued to decline.
The size of the labor force, the number of working age citizens actually holding jobs, was essentially unchanged from April at 153.7 million. Teenagers and black Americans faired the worst in the household survey portion of the report with Asians and adult women finding the most work. A disconcerting secondary statistic is that the labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio stayed flat. If the population grew and those ratios stayed flat, how did the size of the labor force remain flat as well?
The most alarming statistic in the report is that the number of those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer (long-term unemployed) increased by 361,000 and they now account for almost half of all unemployed. This indicates that a large portion of the jobless, may be holding onto little hope of ever finding a job.
In typical administration fashion the increase of 8,000 jobs in computers were a “notable gain” but a loss of 5,000 jobs in manufacturing was “little changed” from April.
Government workers seem to have shed the greatest number of workers as local, state and federal bureaucracies reduce their sizes to realistic and affordable sizes.