U.S. Unemployment Rate Matches Historic Low As Payrolls Rise

Jobless rate fell to 3.8% to match April 2000 as the lowest since 1969

Jun 1, 2018 (BE2C2) — Last month, the United States added 223,000 jobs beating forecasts and the unemployment rate matched its lowest level in five decades, the Labor Department said Friday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its report employment edged up in the retail, healthcare and construction sectors.

Retail trade added 31,000 jobs while manufacturing added 18,000. The construction industry, often a key contributor to U.S. workforce growth, gained 25,000 jobs.

Healthcare jobs increased by 29,000, in line with the average monthly gain over the past year.

May’s workforce increase was higher than the average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months, the Labor Department said.

May’s unemployment rate sank to 3.8 percent as the number of Americans submitting jobless claims declined by 6.1 million — the lowest mark since 1969, matching a level notched in 2000.

The number of long-term unemployed barely changed, at 1.2 million and accounted for 19.4 percent of the total unemployment figure, the Labor Department said.

In April, unemployment hit 4 percent for the first time since 2000.

President Donald Trump hinted Friday a solid jobs report was coming, a break in traditional protocol involving the release of the monthly Labor Department statistics.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC Friday morning, “I don’t think he gave anything away.”

“I think this is all according to routine, law and custom,” he added.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the tweet was appropriate because “he didn’t put the numbers out.”

“President Trump was sent the jobs numbers in advance,” said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in Obama administration. “Sharing them with the public is destabilizing and inappropriate. A bigger concern is if he was bragging about them privately to his friends last night — friends who could make millions on the information.”

Mr. Trump has celebrated strong jobs reports in the past, after they were issued. He also, before he took office, often dismissed the reports as “fiction.”

Nevertheless, according to economists, since hiring rose more than forecast in May, wages picked up and the unemployment rate matched the lowest in almost five decades, all these indicate the strong labor market will keep powering economic growth in the US.

The report also reinforces expectations that steady hiring and lower taxes announced by President Donald Trump will bolster consumer spending, helping to support the projected rebound in US growth this quarter and continuing to trim the unemployment rate.

“The job market is red hot,” Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report.

Economists estimate that monthly payroll gains of less than 100,000 are sufficient to keep pushing down the unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate Labor Department survey of households and is near levels considered consistent with at or below full employment.

The number of employed people in the workforce rose by 293,000, the report showed, while the number of unemployed decreased by 281,000, helping push down the jobless rate.

Michael Gapen, chief United States economist at Barclays, believes the unemployment rate could sink as low as 3 percent by the end of 2019. That would bring it to levels last seen in 1953, the height of the economic boom after World War II.

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