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US economy adds fewer jobs than expected in May; unemployment slips to 4.3%

Nonfarm payroll employment in the U.S. increased by 138,000 in May, and the unemployment rate declined to 4.3%, from 4.4% in the previous month.

Econoday data made available by Bloomberg indicated that the consensus estimate for month-over-month job gains was 185,000. The unemployment rate was expected to remain at 4.4%.

The number of long-term unemployed, or those who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks, was unchanged at 1.7 million in the month and accounted for 24.0% of the unemployed.

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Total private payrolls increased by 147,000 in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $26.22. Average hourly earnings rose by 63 cents, or 2.5% on a year-over-year basis.

The labor force participation rate declined to 62.7% in the month, from 62.9% in April. Those marginally attached to the labor force — people who wanted to work, were available for work and had looked for a job within the last 12 months — totaled 1.5 million in May. Among those marginally attached, 355,000 were discouraged workers, or people who are not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The number of involuntary part-time workers, or individuals who would prefer full-time employment, was little changed at 5.2 million in May.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down to 50,000 jobs added from 79,000, and the change for April was revised down to 174,000 from 211,000.

Education and health services added 47,000 jobs in May, with the professional and business services sector adding 38,000 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector added 31,000 jobs, and the financial activities segment added 11,000 jobs.

Retail trade lost 6,100 jobs, and the information sector lost 2,000 jobs during the month.

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