BLS: 164,000 Average Monthly Job Gains So Far in 2019 vs. 223,000/Month in 2018

Susan Jones | June 7, 2019 | 8:52am EDT
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( - Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 75,000 in May, below expectations, and the unemployment rate remained at its 50-year low of 3.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down from +189,000 to +153,000, and the change for April was revised down from +263,000 to +224,000. With those revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 75,000 less than previously reported.

After revisions, job gains have averaged 151,000 per month over the last 3 months.

BLS noted that monthly job gains have averaged 164,000 so far in 2019, compared with an average gain of 223,000 per month in 2018. In May, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services and in health care.

The number of employed Americans, which has set 18 records so far in the Trump presidency, increased by 113,000 month-to-month, totaling 156,758,000 in May. That's slightly below the record 156,949,000 most recently set in February.

The number of unemployed Americans, which reached a 19-year low in April, increased by 64,000 to 5,888,000 last month.

In May, the nation’s civilian noninstitutionalized population, consisting of all people age 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 258,861,000. Of those, 162,646,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 162,646,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 62.8 percent of the 258,861,000 civilian noninstitutionalized population. That's the same as last month's number.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.3 percent), adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (12.7 percent),Whites (3.3 percent), Blacks (6.2 percent), Asians (2.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little or no change in May.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 6 cents to $27.83. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1 percent.

'U.S. economy is in a good place'

"Midway through the second quarter of 2019, the U.S. economy is in a good place," Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said in a speech on May 30.

"Over the past four quarters, gross domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged 3.2 percent, which compares with an average growth rate of 2.3 percent since the recovery began in the summer of 2009."

Clarida noted that in July, the current U.S. economic expansion would become the longest on record.

Average monthly job gains, according to Clarida, have continued to outpace the increases needed to provide jobs for people entering the labor force. And he said wages have been rising.

This week, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book, a summary of current economic conditions across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts.

The Beige Book noted that employment has continued to increase nationwide. While there was "solid hiring demand" for retail, business services, technical, manufacturing, and construction jobs, and by staffing agencies in general, that stronger employment growth "continued to be constrained by labor markets, with Districts citing shortages of both high- and low-skill workers."

The recent uncertainy over tariffs and trade is expected to be a factor in the months ahead, as some businesses are expressing concern about the effect on their bottom lines.

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