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May 2012 Jobs Gained Disappoints - US Unemployment Rises to 8.2%

June 1, 2012

The U.S. unemployment rate increased slightly (by one-tenth of a percentage point) to 8.2 percent in May.

Friday's report from the Labor Department also shows that the U.S. economy had a net gain of just 69,000 jobs, which is much less than the 158,000 jobs most economists had predicted.

Economists say job gains are needed to give consumers the confidence they need to make purchases, and to encourage businesses to make investments that lead to new hiring.

Slowing growth in China and Europe's economic problems have hurt U.S. hiring by cutting demand for American-made exports.

Republicans blamed President Barack Obama's policies for weak economic growth. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the administration's approach has “failed” and “is crushing the middle class.”

The chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, said the economy has gained non-government jobs every month for more than two years, recovering about half of the positions lost during the recession. He urged Congress to approve Mr. Obama's program for bolstering growth, which includes tax breaks for small businesses that hire new people and streamlined procedures for homeowners who need to refinance their mortgages.

The US department of Labor released the following Employment Situation details:

Nonfarm payroll employment changed little in May (+69,000), and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade but declined in construction. Employment was little changed in most other major industries.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons (12.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.2percent) changed little in May.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.8 percent) and Hispanics (11.0 percent) edged up in May, while the rates for adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (24.6 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and blacks (13.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in May (not seasonally adjusted), down from 7.0 percent a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose from 5.1 to 5.4 million in May. These individuals accounted for 42.8 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force participation rate increased in May by 0.2 percentage point to 63.8 percent, offsetting a decline of the same amount in April. The employment- population ratio edged up to 58.6 percent in May.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) edged up to 8.1 million over the month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In May, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.2 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had
not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 830,000 discouraged workers in May, about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in May had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school
attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in May (+69,000), following a similar change in April (+77,000). In comparison, the average monthly gain was 226,000 in the first quarter of the year. In May, employment rose in health care, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade, while construction lost jobs.

Health care employment continued to increase in May (+33,000). Within the industry, employment in ambulatory health care services, which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers, rose by 23,000 over the month. Over the year, health care employment has risen by 340,000.

Transportation and warehousing added 36,000 jobs over the month. Employment gains in transit and ground passenger transportation (+20,000) and in couriers and messengers (+5,000) followed job losses in those industries in April. Employment in both industries has shown little net change over the year. In May, truck transportation added 7,000 jobs.

Employment in wholesale trade rose by 16,000 over the month. Since reaching an employment
low in May 2010, this industry has added 184,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in May (+12,000) following a similar change in April (+9,000). Job gains averaged 41,000 per month in the first quarter of this year. In May, employment rose in fabricated metal products (+6,000) and in primary metals (+4,000). Since its most recent low in January 2010, manufacturing employment has
increased by 495,000.

Construction employment declined by 28,000 in May, with job losses occurring in specialty trade contractors (-18,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (-11,000). Since reaching a low in January 2011, employment in construction has shown little change on net.

Employment in professional and business services was essentially unchanged in May. Since the most recent low point in September 2009, employment in this industry has grown by 1.4 million. In May, job losses in accounting and bookkeeping services (-14,000) and in services to buildings and dwellings (-14,000) were offset by small gains elsewhere in the industry.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, retail trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little in May.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in May. The manufacturing workweek declined by 0.3 hour to 40.5 hours, and factory overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 2 cents to $23.41. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.7 percent. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 1 cent to $19.70.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised from +154,000 to +143,000, and the change for April was revised from +115,000 to +77,000.

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