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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
                          Statement of
                           Keith Hall
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                           before the                              
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS
                      Friday, June 5, 2009

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data that we released this morning.
     Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 345,000 in May.  Job
losses had averaged 643,000 per month during the prior 6 months.
In May, the unemployment rate rose from 8.9 to 9.4 percent.
Since the recession began in December 2007, payroll employment
has fallen by 6.0 million, and the unemployment rate has
increased by 4.5 percentage points.
     Job losses continued to be widespread in May, but the rate
of decline moderated in construction and several service-providing 
industries.  Large job losses continued in the manufacturing 
sector (-156,000), with employment declines in nearly all 
component industries.  Employment fell sharply in motor vehicles 
and parts (-30,000), machinery (-26,000), and fabricated 
metals (-19,000).  Since the start of the recession, manufacturing 
employment has decreased by 1.8 million, accounting for 3 out of 10 
jobs lost during this downturn.
     Construction employment declined by 59,000 in May, half the
average of the previous 6 months.  Job losses moderated in the
private service-providing industries, with employment falling by
113,000 in May compared with an average monthly decline of
356,000 in the prior 6 months.  Employment was little changed in
temporary help, retail trade, and leisure and hospitality,
following large declines in recent months.
     Elsewhere in the service-providing sector, the health care
industry added 24,000 jobs in May.  This was about in line with
the trend thus far in 2009.
     In May, average hourly earnings for production and
nonsupervisory workers in the private sector were up by 2 cents
to $18.54.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
risen by 3.1 percent.  From April 2008 to April 2009, the
Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
declined by 1.2 percent.
     Turning to measures from the survey of households, the
unemployment rate increased from 8.9 to 9.4 percent over the
month.  The number of unemployed rose by 787,000 to 14.5 million.
Since the recession began, the jobless rate has increased by 4.5
percentage points, and the number of unemployed persons has grown
by 7.0 million.
     Among the unemployed, the number who have been out of work
27 weeks or more increased by 268,000 in May to 3.9 million.
These long-term unemployed represented 2.5 percent of the labor
force, the highest proportion since 1983.
     Over the month, the employment-population ratio edged down
to 59.7 percent, the lowest level since October 1984.  Since the
recession began, the employment-population ratio has fallen by
3.0 percentage points.
     Among the employed, the number of persons working part time
who would prefer full-time work was little changed for the second
consecutive month.  At 9.1 million in May, involuntary part-time
employment was 4.4 million higher than at the start of the
     Among those outside the labor force--that is, persons
neither working nor looking for work--the number of discouraged
workers was 792,000 in May, up from 400,000 a year earlier.
These individuals are not currently looking for work because they
believe no jobs are available for them.
     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment fell by 345,000 in
May, compared with the average monthly decline of 643,000 for the
previous 6 months.  While job losses continued to be widespread,
declines moderated in construction and in a number of service-
providing industries.  The unemployment rate rose by half a
percentage point to 9.4 percent.
     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your

Last Modified Date: June 05, 2009