US Economy
US added 217,000 in May; All jobs lost during recession recovered
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jun 6, 2014 - 3:01 PM

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US nonfarm payroll employment rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics today. Employment rose in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing. With the gains in May, payroll employment now exceeds its pre-recession level. Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 8.7m from January 2008 through February 2010. Since then, employment has risen by 8.8m. - -  meaning all the jobs that were lost during the recession have been recovered.  Of course the population has also increased since 2008.

The US labor market reached two milestones in May. Not only did American employers finally regain all the jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession, but seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls rose by more than 200,000 for a fourth consecutive month - -  a trend that hasn’t happened since the end of the 1990s.

Incorporating the revisions for March and April, which decreased total nonfarm employment by 6,000 on net, monthly job gains have averaged 234,000 over the past 3 months. In the 12 months prior to May, employment growth averaged 197,000 per month.

With the gains in May, payroll employment now exceeds its pre-recession level. Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 8.7m from January 2008 through February 2010. Since then, employment has risen by 8.8m.

In May, employment in professional and business services rose by 55,000, the same as its prior 12-month average gain. Within this industry, employment increased over the month in computer systems design and in management and technical consulting. Employment in temporary help services continued to trend up (+14,000) and has grown by 224,000 over the past year.

Health care and social assistance added 55,000 jobs over the month. The health care industry added 34,000 jobs in May, twice its average monthly gain for the prior 12 months. Within health care, employment rose by 23,000 in May in ambulatory health care services (which includes doctors’ offices, outpatient care, and home health care) and by 7,000 in hospitals. Employment in social assistance rose by 21,000 in May, compared with an average monthly gain of 7,000 over the prior 12 months.

Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 32,000 in May. Over the past year, food services has added 311,000 jobs.

Transportation and warehousing employment increased by 16,000 in May. Over the prior 12 months, this industry had added an average of 9,000 jobs per month. In May, job gains occurred in support activities for transportation (+6,000) and in couriers and messengers (+4,000). Manufacturing employment changed little over the month but has added 105,000 jobs over the past year. Within the industry, durable goods added 17,000 jobs in May and has accounted for the net job gain in manufacturing over the past 12 months.

Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents in May. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1%. From April 2013 to April 2014, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose by 2.0%.

Turning now to the survey of households, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3% in May, following a decline of 0.4 percentage point in April. The number of unemployed persons remained at 9.8m in May. Over the year, the unemployment rate has declined by 1.2 percentage points, and the number of unemployed has decreased by 1.9m.

In May, the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8%. It has shown no clear trend since this past October but is down by 0.6 percentage point over the year.

Among persons who were neither working nor looking for work in May, 2.1m were classified as marginally attached to the labor force, about unchanged from a year earlier. (These individuals had not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available for work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was 697,000 in May, little different from a year ago.

Interest rates are going to be tame for a while, says CNBC's Rick Santelli, sharing his thoughts on how Friday's jobs number will likely impact the markets. And Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics; Jared Bernstein, Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, and CNBC's Larry Kudlow, share their thoughts on Friday's employment numbers:

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