BLS: 138,000 Jobs Added in May, Unemployment Down to 4.3 Percent

June 2, 2017

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

This morning’s jobs report showed the economy continued a pace of moderate job growth in May, with 138,000 jobs added to payrolls and the unemployment rate down to 4.3 percent, a 16-year low. That pace of job gains is much weaker than most economists expected, with several major sectors losing jobs in May including state and local governments, department store retailers, and non-durable goods manufacturers.

Despite an economy close to full employment, wage gains continue to be elusive. Average hourly pay rose just 2.5 percent from one year ago in May, the same sluggish pace as last month — something most economists don’t expect to continue with unemployment falling below 3 percent in many U.S. cities. We’re seeing the same weak overall pay trend in our Glassdoor Local Pay Reports, which shows median base pay up just 2.1 percent year over year in May, down from a recent peak of 3.1 percent pay growth in January.

In May, job gains were largely carried by four sectors: Professional and business services (which includes most tech jobs) (+38,000 jobs), healthcare (+32,300 jobs), leisure and hospitality (primarily eating and drinking establishments) (+31,000 jobs) and temporary help services (+12,900 jobs).

Sectors that actually lost jobs in May included government (-9,000 jobs, mostly at the state and local level), retail (-6,100 jobs, mostly among large department stores, with smaller health and personal care retailers actually adding 1,700 jobs), wholesale trade (-2,100 jobs) and information (which includes most media) (-2,000 jobs).

Although today’s jobs report was mixed overall, it’s unlikely to change the course of Federal Reserve policymakers, who are widely expected to raise interest rates at their upcoming June meeting. Today’s report marks the 80th consecutive month of positive job gains — a remarkable stretch of slow and steady economic recovery that we’ll be watching closely for other signs of weakness in coming months.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.