223,000 Jobs Added in May, Unemployment Down to 3.8%

Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 223,000 in May, an increase from last month’s downwardly revised reading of 159,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, matching April 2000 as the lowest since 1969.

Private service-providing industries gained 171,000 jobs, led by education and health services and retail trade, adding 39,000 and 31,100, respectively.

Goods-producing employment rose by 47,000 jobs during the month, as gains in manufacturing led by adding 24,000. Construction employment posted its second consecutive increase, gaining 25,000 in May.

The civilian labor force participation rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 62.7%. Workers unemployed for less than 14 weeks decreased by 153,000, while the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, fell by 104,000 and accounted for 19.6% of the unemployed. The number of discouraged workers was 378,000, an increase of 23,000 from a year earlier.

Average hourly earnings rose by 8 cents, settling at $26.92. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.7%.

Read the BLS release.

About Stephen Newton

Stephen Newton is an economic research associate at ABA.