A newly released report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed non-farm payroll employment rose by merely 54,000 in May—far below industry analysts’ expectations—holding the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent. Job gains continued in professional and business services, health care, and mining, while employment levels in other major private-sector industries were little changed.
Some highlights from the report:
Employment in manufacturing changed little in May (-5,000). Job gains in fabricated metal products and in machinery were offset by losses in transportation equipment, paper and paper products, and printing and related support activities. Note: The manufacturing industry had added 243,000 jobs from a recent low point in December 2009 through April 2011.
Construction employment was essentially unchanged in May, showing little movement on net since early 2010, after having fallen sharply during the 2007-09 period. Meanwhile, mining added 7,000 jobs in May. Employment in mining has risen by 115,000 since a recent low point in October 2009.
Employment in professional and business services continued to increase in May (+44,000). Notable job gains occurred in accounting and bookkeeping services (+18,000) and in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). Employment in temporary help services was little changed.
Health care employment continued to expand in May (+17,000). Employment in the industry had risen by an average of 24,000 per month over the prior 12 months.
Employment in local government continued to decline over the month (-28,000). Local government has lost 446,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.
Employment in other major industries, including retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality, changed little in May.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in May at 8.5 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
The complete May 2011 Unemployment report is available online.