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Look Behind the 175,000 Jobs Created in May

The AFL-CIOyoung workers conference in Minnesota in 2011,  Photo credit AFGE/Flickr

The nation’s economy added 175,000 new jobs in May and the jobless rate slightly increased to 7.6% compared to April’s 7.5%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The 175,000 new May jobs outpaced April’s job growth by 10,000 and marked 38 straight months of tepid job growth. But economists say the growth rate is too slow to fuel a healthy jobs recovery.

The slow job growth reinforces the need for Congress to repeal the sequester and its across-the-board cuts that will cost more than 750,000 jobs this year alone and are derailing the economic recovery.

Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The reality is, our economy will not recover until our government and global financial institutions begin to govern—not just for the banks—but for the well-being of all of us. People unwilling to give up the ghost of austerity provide the same-old tired ideas: the idea that drastic cuts to public spending will promote private spending. Austerity doesn’t work—under any name or by any measure. Eurozone leaders are beginning to accept this idea. We should do the same.

In a report released yesterday, the Center for American Progress called for an end to the disastrous austerity measures, such as the sequester and those that have plunged Europe into economic turmoil, and to focus instead on jobs, not the shrinking deficit.       

These cuts are economically damaging, shortsighted and now completely unnecessary, but because of lingering deficit concerns, and we remain stuck with them.

Read the full report: It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button on the Fiscal Debate.

“We may be making some progress, but it’s far too little and far too slow,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The problems putting a damper on economic growth—the sequester, the congressional stalemate, the rise of a low-wage economy—are all within Washington’s power to address. While more Americans are finding work, the work isn’t leaving them with enough money in their pockets for us to truly call this a recovery.  Our leaders need to stop inflicting harm on America’s workers and their families, and start enacting policies—like raising the minimum wage—that will position workers to drive a real and sustainable economic recovery in which all of America can share.

The number of long-term unemployed (those who are jobless for 27 weeks or more) remained at 4.4 million, accounting for 37.3% of the jobless. The number of long-term jobless has dropped by 1 million over the past 12 months.

The unemployment rates for adult men (7.2%), adult women (6.5%), teenagers (24.5%), whites (6.7 %), African Americans (13.5%) and Latinos (9.1%) showed little or no change in May. The jobless rate for Asian Americans was 4.3%, down from last month’s 5.1%.

The biggest job gains were in professional and business services (57,000), leisure and hospitality (38,000), retail (28,000) and health care (11,000).

Federal government employment declined by 14,000 in May. Over the past three months, federal government employment has decreased by 45,000.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, state government and local government, showed little change from April.

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