May BLS Report: 217,000 Jobs Added, Jobless Rate Unchanged

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Source: May 2014 BLS report

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its May 2014 unemployment report, which showed an overall gain of 217,000 jobs and the unemployment rate holding at 6.3% after last month’s drop of 0.4%. This data confirms a rebound of economic conditions from the winter slowdown.

With these gains, employment has now exceeded its pre-recession levels. Between January 2008 and February 2010, 8.7 million jobs were lost. But in just over four years, employment has slowly risen by 8.8 million.

Revisions to prior months showed that March remained at 203,000 jobs added and April subtracted 6,000 jobs from last month’s report bringing it down to a still impressive 282,000 jobs added. Gains for total nonfarm payroll employment has averaged 197,000 new jobs per month over the last 12 months.

A number of sectors showed impressive growth in May, including healthcare and social assistance (+55,000), transportation and warehousing (+16,400), manufacturing (+10,000) and leisure and hospitality (+39,000). The professional and business services sector had one of the largest gains of the month (+55,000), with numerous sub-sectors showing positive gains, including management of companies and enterprises (+12,000), IT consulting and design (+9,000) and temporary services (+14,300).

Taking the revisions from the past three months, the data now shows that 234,000 jobs have been added over the last three months. This exceeds the 12 month average prior to May (197,000) by 37,000 jobs, a clear indicator that U.S. economic activity is continuing to improve.

While the release data shows many positive indicators, not all of it is good news. The labor participation rate — those who are employed and unemployed, but actively looking for work — remained unchanged for the month of May, at 62.8%.  This number is considered high and has not budged since last October.

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