Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in May, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent, the lowest rate since 1969, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in several industries, including retail trade, health care, and construction.
The May jobs numbers were so good that even The New York Times had trouble finding the words to describe them. In his article, “We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are,” Neil Irwin said, “The real question in analyzing the May jobs numbers released Friday is whether there are enough synonyms for good in an online thesaurus to describe them adequately,”
In May, retail trade added 31,000 jobs, with gains occurring in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (+6,000). Over the year, retail trade has added 125,000 jobs.
Employment in health care rose by 29,000 in May, about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Ambulatory health care services added 18,000 jobs over the month, and employment in hospitals continued to trend up (+6,000).
Employment in construction continued on an upward trend in May (+25,000) and has risen by 286,000 over the past 12 months. Within the industry, nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 15,000 jobs over the month.
Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in May (+23,000) and has risen by 206,000 over the year.
Transportation and warehousing added 19,000 jobs over the month and 156,000 over the year. In May, job gains occurred in warehousing and storage (+7,000) and in couriers and messengers (+5,000).
Manufacturing employment continued to expand over the month (+18,000). Durable goods accounted for most of the change, including an increase of 6,000 jobs in machinery. Manufacturing employment has risen by 259,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the growth in durable goods industries.
Mining added 6,000 jobs in May. Since a recent low point in October 2016, employment in mining has grown by 91,000, with support activities for mining accounting for nearly all of the increase.
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.92. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.59 in May.
The March and April reports were also revised. The March revision showed that the economy added 155,000 jobs versus the 135,000 originally reported and April numbers decreased from 164,000 to 159,000. The two revisions combined for a net increase of 15,000 jobs over previously reported numbers.