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Labor Market Added Staggering 339,000 Jobs Last Month—But Unemployment Rate Rose To 3.7%




Amid waves of layoffs continuing to hit some of the nation’s largest employers, the unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked up last month despite the labor market gaining significantly more jobs than expected—adding to mixed messages about the economy as the Federal Reserve decides whether it should pause its aggressive campaign to tame rising prices for the first time in more than a year.

Key Facts

Total employment increased by 339,000 in May—far exceeding economist projections of 190,000 after gains in April also unexpectedly climbed, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up to 3.7% from 3.4% in April—well above average projections of 3.5%.

Key Background

Despite waves of layoffs hitting some of the nation’s largest tech employers, the unemployment rate fell to a 54-year low of 3.4% in January and has remained near historically low levels this year. Job cuts, however, have only become more widespread, with Disney and consulting firm Accenture among those cutting thousands of jobs last month. Employment growth is strong, but “fragmented,” Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP, said in a Thursday statement. The payroll processor reported private employers added a better-than-expected 278,000 last month; however, it also noted pay growth is “slowing substantially” despite the robust hiring, as leisure and hospitality jobs led gains, while manufacturing and finance lost jobs.



The Fed continued its aggressive rate-hiking campaign last month, raising interest rates by another 25 basis points to a top level of 5.25%—the highest since September 2007. Justifying the added pressure, officials noted job gains have been “robust in recent months,” while the unemployment rate has remained low. However, the Fed has since hinted it will pause its tightening cycle at the next meeting, which concludes on June 14, but with inflation still significantly above historical levels, some experts warn more interest rate hikes could be coming—even if not this month. “Another month of above-expectation job gains increases the likelihood that more rate hikes are ahead,” says First American economist Odeta Kushi.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Further Reading

Spring 2023 Layoff Tracker: Zendesk, ZipRecruiter Cut Hundreds Of Jobs (Forbes)

Inflation Unexpectedly Ticks Down—But Prices Still Rose 4.9% In April (Forbes)

Looming Recession For Small Businesses? (Forbes)

Source: Fox Business


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