U.S. Employment Shows Promise with Decrease in Unemployment

U.S. employers added 223,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May, compared with an average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months. With the unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent—an eighteen year record low—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment has continued to trend upward in multiple industries, including retail trade, health care and construction.

May marked the 92nd straight month of job growth in the U.S., with the number of unemployed persons declining to 6.1 million. Since the beginning of the year, unemployment rate has gone down by 0.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 772,000. 

The U.S. economy added 31,000 jobs in retail trade, with an increase occurring in general merchandise stores, building materials and garden supplies. Employment in health care increased by 29,000 and construction rose by 25,000 with a continual growth of 286,000 positions over the past 12 months. Both professional and technical services have shown a gain of 23,000 jobs and has increased by 206,000 over the year. Manufacturing employment has continued to grow during the month of May with 18,000 jobs—durable goods required due to an addition of 6,000 jobs in machinery. Employment in other major industries, such as wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little to no change over the course of the month.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.92. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.7 percent and the average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.59 in May.

With job openings being at a two-decade high, this is good news for the many young people who have recently graduated. However, there are still many working-age people on the sidelines of the job market. Though more people have joined the workforce in the first quarter of 2018 than in the first quarter of 2017, the share of prime-age workers who are employed still hasn't returned to where it was prior to the recession.