The economy added 217,000 new jobs in May, a drop from April’s 288,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Over the past year, the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.9 million and the unemployment rate has fallen from 7.5%. While the improved jobs numbers over the past several months show the economy is beginning to recover, job growth is still not robust enough to provide jobs for the millions who remain out of work or to boost wages for most Americans.
AFL-CIO chief economist William Spriggs said:
While payroll employment returned to its pre-Great Recession level of January 2008, public-sector employment continues losing jobs, especially local public education. This drag in the public sector is a reminder of the need to increase public investment in hiring back teachers and rebuilding our sewers, roads and transportation systems. The share of Americans who are employed remains stuck below 59%, well below the 63.3% peak in March 2007 and 64.7% in April 2000. That difference represents the multimillion job gap needed. Wages have grown 2.1% over the year, just about even with inflation; little catch-up for the middle class. The minimum wage is now below 30% of the average wage, a record low; a reminder of the need to raise the minimum wage.
He added that the real measure of a healthy labor market is wages that rise with productivity, and that is not happening.
The number of long-term unemployed people (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed little change at 3.4 million jobless workers. While the number of long-term unemployed workers has dropped by 979,000 in the past year, long-term joblessness continues to plague the economy, House Republicans continue to refuse to allow a vote on the extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits program that was approved by a bipartisan Senate majority. House Republicans allowed emergency help for jobless workers to expire at the end of last year.
So far, more than 3 million jobless workers have lost benefits and that number continues to rise.
Call your representative at 845-809-4509 and tell her or him to pass the EUC benefits extension.
Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business services (55,000, mostly in employment services), health care (55,000), food services (32,000) and transportation and warehousing (16,000).
Employment in other major industries, manufacturing, retail trade, wholesale trade, financial activities, mining and government, changed little over the month.
Unemployment rates for the major worker groups: adult men (5.9%), adult women (5.7%), whites (5.4%) and blacks (11.5%) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Latinos rose to 7.7% from April’s 7.3%. The unemployment rate for adult black women fell to 10.0%, its lowest since January 2008.