June 2, 2017

May 2017 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 4.3 percent

Jobs Created: 138,000

Employment and Unemployment

  1. The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for May, down 0.1 percent from last month. Today’s unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2001.

  2. Today’s jobs report shows an increase of 138,000 nonfarm jobs in May, lower than analysts’ prediction of job growth of 182,000. Employment for March was revised down from 79,000 to 50,000 jobs created; and April was revised down from 211,000 to 174,000.

  3. Unemployment in May among those ages 16-19 was 14.3 percent, down from 14.7 percent last month. For people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, unchanged from April. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, down from 7.9 percent in April.

  4. The number of long-term unemployed, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was 1.7 million, up 37,000 from last month. They account for 24 percent of the unemployed, down from 22.6 percent in the prior month.

  5. The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 8.4 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from last month and the lowest level in nine years. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. 

  6. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 13.6 million. These are people who are unemployed (6.9 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (1.5 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment (5.2 million).  

  7. In May, employment grew by 31,000 in leisure and hospitality; 38,000 in professional and business services; 24,000 in health care; and 7,000 in mining. Employment in retail trade fell by 6,100 jobs last month. Government jobs fell by 9,000 last month, credited to a gain of 8,000 jobs at the federal level, and 17,000 fewer jobs at the state and local government level. 

  8. Following its May 2-3 meeting, the Federal Reserve issued a statement stating: “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen even as growth in economic activity slowed. Job gains were solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate declined … Inflation measured on a 12-month basis recently has been running close to the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective … The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory and continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term.”

  9. The Federal Reserve voted unanimously to maintain interest rates at its May meeting, following a rate increase in March, which was its third rate increase since June 2006.

  10. The Federal Reserve next meets June 13-14.    

Labor Force Participation

  1. The labor force participation rate is 62.7 percent, down from 62.9 percent last month and remaining near its lowest level in 38 years.

  2. The labor force participation rate remains concerning as many workers stay on the sidelines. Since October 2013, the participation rate has largely been stuck in a narrow range of 62.5 to 63 percent. Prior to the recession, the rate was 66 percent.

  3. The share of American adults with jobs in May was 60 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from last month. This is nearly 4 percentage points below its pre-recession peak. 


  1.  In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $26.22, following a 5 cent increase in April. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent.

Issue Tag: Labor