Job Growth Reaches 138,000 in May Unemployment Continues to Drop

JOB GROWTH: May saw the addition of 138,000 new jobs, which, while positive, represents slower growth than the (revised) gain of 174,000 in April but still ahead of the three-month average monthly job growth figure of 121,000.

TOP INDUSTRIES: In May, solid gains were recorded in healthcare, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate continued its steady decline, dropping in May to 4.3 percent, its lowest point in 16 years, likely attributable to a shrinking labor force.

WAGES: Wages rose slightly in May, representing an annual average hourly increase of 2.5 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week remains unchanged at 34.4 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: Temporary job growth accelerated in May with the addition of 12,900 new jobs. For the second month in a row, temporary job penetration exceeded three million jobs.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? While job growth in the past month was positive, it did not meet expectations. Some attribute this to a market that has reached full employment, while others point to continuing high numbers of unemployed workers who are not actively seeking employment. Employers continue to struggle filling jobs, with many concerned that candidates do not possess the skills they need. Whether there is a need to offer higher salaries or more lucrative benefits packages or to reconfigure training programs, employers face continuing challenges to meet their talent needs.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, 24/7 Wall Street, Market Watch, USA Today, The New York Times, CNN Money, NPR

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