There are few bright spots in Friday’s Labor Department jobs report that the economy gained a net 69,000 jobs in May. This is less than half of what analysts had forecast, and the third consecutive disappointing jobs market report.
Last month’s initial figure for total nonfarm payroll employment was revised downward from 115,000 to 77,000. In comparison, the average monthly jobs gain was 226,000 in the first quarter of 2012.
The unemployment rate edged up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent last month. This is being attributed to more people who have begun looking for work. People who have stopped looking are not counted as unemployed by the government, which in large part accounted for the drop to 8.1 percent last month.
Among the major worker groups, the employment rates for adult men (7.8 percent) and Hispanics (11 percent) edged up from the previous month. There was little change in the rates for teenagers (24.6 percent), blacks (13.6 percent), whites and adult women (each 7.4 percent)
The number of those who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks rose to 5.4 million in May from 5.1. These individuals accounted for 42.8 percent of the unemployed.
Involuntary part-time workers—those who are working part-time because their hours have been cut back or because they are unable to find a full-time job, edged up to 8.1 million. In May, 2.4 million persons—up from 2.2 million in 2011—were not counted as unemployed because though they wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime during the prior year, they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the monthly survey. The number of so-called “discouraged workers,” who are not currently looking for work because they do not believe any jobs are available, was 830,000, about the same as last year, the Labor Department said.
The health care industry added 33,000 jobs in May. There were also gains in transportation and warehousing (36,000) and wholesale trade (16,000). Construction, however, lost 28,000 jobs in May.
The report comes on the heels of Tuesday’s similarly disappointing Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index—one of two major consumer sentiment surveys—which declined for the second consecutive month. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 41.0 percent from 38.1 percent, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 7.9 percent from 8.4 percent.
Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.8 percent from 16.9 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.0 percent from 18.4 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes did improve to 15.2 percent from 13.9 percent.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.