Job growth in the U.S. came in at an anemic rate in May, sending the unemployment rate up slightly for the month, according to figures released Friday by the Labor Department.
The economy added a net of just 69,000 new jobs in May, far lower than the 150,000 expected by most economists.
Furthermore, the already week job creation numbers posted for April were revised down sharply to show a gain of just 77,000 jobs, 38,000 fewer than the 115,000 initially reported.
The report also showed that the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 percent in April, marking the first increase since last June.
The increase by the unemployment rate surprised economists, who had expected the unemployment rate to come in unchanged.
Labor Department officials said that an increase in the labor force, along with the slow rate of job creation, played a role in the slight increase in unemployment.
Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said, "May's employment report clearly suggests that U.S. labor market conditions are deteriorating again, which will undoubtedly prompt more speculation that QE3 is coming soon."
"We still don't think it is the near certainty some commentators seem to believe," he added. "Nevertheless, it does now appear that the global slowdown, and events in Europe particularly, are beginning to have a more marked impact on the U.S. economy."
Private sector job growth remained positive for April, with non-government companies adding 82,000 jobs for the month. Meanwhile, governments at the federal, state and local levels shed 13,000 jobs for the month.
Most economists had predicted a much higher level of new job creation in the private sector, forecasting an increase of about 164,000 private sector jobs.
The health care industry added jobs in May, as did the transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, and manufacturing industries, while the construction industry shed jobs.
Employment in the other major sectors of the economy, including professional services, mining, retail, information, finance, and leisure, remained little changed.
The number of long-term unemployed, those without jobs for 27 weeks or more, rose to 5.4 million in May from the 5.1 million registered in April, accounting for 42.8 percent of the total number of unemployed.
People working part time because they are unable to find full time work or because their hours had been cut back edged up to a level of 8.1 million in May.
Some 2.4 million people are considered marginally attached to the labor force because, despite wanting to and being available for work, they had not searched for a job in the last four weeks.
Of that number, there were 830,000 discouraged workers who had given up their job search because they believe there are no jobs available. The remaining 1.6 million had given up their job searches for further education or family responsibilities.
The average workweek for non-farm employees ticked down for the month to 34.4 hours, slightly below the 34.5 hours in April.
Average hourly earnings for all employees actually edged up for the month, rising by 2 cents to $23.41.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com