U.S. Added 217,000 Jobs in May; Unemployment Rate Remains 6.3%

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from The New York Times,

After a slow start to the year amid frigid temperatures followed by a spring catch-up in March and April, the American economy settled into a healthy, if not spectacular, pace of job creation last month, adding 217,000 positions. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent.

The Friday report by the Labor Department had been eagerly awaited by investors and traders — with some pessimists fearing a return to the weak level of job creation recorded in December and January, and optimists hoping for a repeat of April’s outsize payrolls gain of 282,000.

In the end, the May number was almost exactly in line with economists’ consensus in recent days. While the flat unemployment rate might be considered good news after a big drop in April to a five-and-a-half year low, one cautionary signal was that the percentage of Americans in the work force did not budge, either.

At 62.8 percent, the labor participation rate remains at lows not seen since the late 1970s, a sign that many Americans have given up the search for work entirely and remain wary about their prospects of getting a job, not even bothering to look for one.

Still, the pace of job creation in May is a bit above the average gain of just under 200,000 jobs a month over the past year. For the fourth month in a row, employers added more than 200,000 positions, the first time that has happened in 14 years, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“This is a solid report.

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