PhotoThe nation's job creation machinery appears to be in something of a slump.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment increased by just 138,000 in May, coming in well below the consensus estimate of economists at for 185,000 new positions.

In addition, the government downwardly revised the figures it issued for the two preceding months.

Employment additions for March were revised down from +79,000 to +50,000, and the change for April was changed to +174,000 instead of the +211,000 initially reported,. That means there were 66,000 fewer new jobs in March and April.

Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 121,000 per month.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dipped to 4.3% from April's 4.4% for a decline of 0.5% since January.

The gainers

Professional and business services (+38,000) and restaurants and bars (+30,000) led May's increase in payrolls. Also adding workers were health care (+24,000) and mining (+7,000).

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

Who's on the job

A check of the major worker groups shows the unemployment rate for Whites edged down to 3.7% in May. The jobless rates for Blacks (7.5%), Asians (3.6%), and Hispanics (5.2%), along with adult men (3.8%), adult women (4.0%), and teenagers (14.3%), showed little or no change.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.7%, down 0.2% from April, but has shown no clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio edged down to 60.0%.

Average hourly earnings for all employees rose 4 cents last month to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 63 cents, or 2.5%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.



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