The US economy added 339,000 jobs last month, soaring past expectations — again

Originally Published: 02 JUN 23 07:23 ET
Updated: 02 JUN 23 09:34 ET

Minneapolis (CNN) — The US labor market isn’t ready to slow down just yet.

Employers added 339,000 jobs in May, according to the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday.

Last month’s job growth showed an acceleration from April’s job gains, which were revised upwardly to 294,000, and it’s a far hotter number than the 190,000 that economists were expecting.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% from 3.4%. Economists were projecting it to climb to 3.5%, according to Refinitiv.

The labor force participation rate held steady in May at 62.6%. The surge in the unemployment rate was driven in part by people who lost their jobs permanently and those who completed a temporary job, BLS data shows.

It appears that it’s taking longer for people to find work: The number of people unemployed for 15 to 26 weeks jumped by 179,000 to 858,000.

The job gains were broad-based, with some of the largest increases seen in professional and business services, government, health care and leisure and hospitality. Construction as well as transportation and warehousing also saw job growth.

“With 339,000 job openings, we’re still rewriting the rule book, and the US labor market continues to defy historical definitions,” Becky Frankiewicz, president and chief commercial officer of ManpowerGroup said in a statement. “The most resilient sectors include leisure and hospitality, as consumers are indulging in summer travel and eating out, creating hiring demand.”

The US economy hasn’t experienced a month of job losses since December 2020, when Covid infections were experiencing a spike.

Through the first five months of 2023, job growth has averaged 312,000 positions a month. That’s a pullback from last year, which averaged 399,000 per month (an average boosted by a blockbuster February when 904,000 jobs were added, and a significant slowdown from the 605,000 added per month during the booming recovery year of 2021. However, the May gains remain elevated from pre-pandemic times: There were 163,000 jobs added per month in 2019.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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