Jun 7, 2019

U.S. jobs growth sank in May, adding just 75,000 jobs

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added just 75,000 jobs in May, fewer than the 175,000 economists were expecting. Unemployment held at 3.6%, a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday.

Why it matters: Job growth screeched to a near halt at a time when every scrap of data is seen as make-or-break by people watching for cracks in the current period of economic expansion, which is on pace to be the longest in U.S. history.

Details:

  • The employment growth numbers for March and April numbers were revised downward by a combined 75,000 jobs.
  • The pace of wage growth slowed a bit, with average hourly earnings up 3.1% year-over-year in May (versus the 3.2% in April).
  • Monthly job growth has averaged 164,000 this year, compared with an average gain
    of 223,000 per month in 2018.

What they're saying:

  • "You can’t read too much into one jobs report, but today’s weak jobs number adds to a growing set of indicators that point to a weakening economy," Betsey Stevenson, an economics professor at the University of Michigan and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, tweeted.
  • "The 75K jobs in May is unsurprising and not worrying: we would expect job growth to slow," tweeted Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama. "The slowdown in wage growth is surprising and worrying ... It should be rising not falling."

The bottom line: The weak jobs number give ammo to those betting the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates later this month.

Go deeper

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

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How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.