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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.

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