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Jobs Growth Misses Target; Unemployment Rate Drops

Jun 4, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Fewer jobs than expected — alas, many fewer private sector jobs — were created in May, suggesting that employers are still not ready to begin hiring in any numbers. So expect a bumpy day in the financial markets.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that 431,000 jobs were created last month. That would be a strong signal of a return to historic hiring were it not that 411,000 of those jobs are temporary positions for the U.S. Census.  “Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000),” the BLS blandly stated.

There was improvement in the unemployment rate, which fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent; small consolation when economists were predicting job growth of over half a million, with at least 100,000 from the private sector.

Furthering tempering the jobs numbers was a revision to the March number, decreasing the initial 230,000 estimate to 208,000. April’s increase of 290,000 jobs added was unchanged.

Construction was the big loser, down 35,000 jobs. However, manufacturing added 29,000  jobs for the month, the fifth month in a row of gains. Temp help services was also a big gainer, adding 31,000. The sector is considered a bell cow of recovery on the belief that before employers add full-time workers, they bring in temp help. Since September, the sector has added 362,000 jobs.

Another sign is the continuing growth in the hourly work week. The report said the average week grew to 34.2 hours, up by .1 hour. For manufacturing employees, the workweek increased by .3 hours to an average of 40.5.

Among the unemployed, 46 percent have been out of work for more than six months. That translates into 6.8 million of the 15 million unemployed. Another 8.8 million are working part time because they can’t find anything else. And 2.2 million are counted as “marginally attached” because they have looked for work, but can’t find anything. They don’t officially get counted as unemployed because they didn’t seek work during the four weeks prior to the BLS survey.

Private-sector em-
ployment changed little (+41,000)
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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