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THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- MAY 2017
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, and the unemployment
rate was little changed at 4.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Job gains occurred in health care and mining.
Household Survey Data
The unemployment rate, at 4.3 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.9
million, changed little in May. Since January, the unemployment rate has declined by
0.5 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has decreased by 774,000. (See
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Whites edged down to 3.7
percent in May. The jobless rates for Blacks (7.5 percent), Asians (3.6 percent),
and Hispanics (5.2 percent), as well as those for adult men (3.8 percent), adult
women (4.0 percent), and teenagers (14.3 percent), showed little or no change.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary
jobs declined by 211,000 to 3.3 million in May. The number of long-term unemployed
(those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged over the month at
1.7 million and accounted for 24.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and
The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.7 percent
in May but has shown no clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population
ratio edged down to 60.0 percent in May. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred
to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.2 million in May. These
individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time
because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time
job. (See table A-8.)
In May, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 238,000
from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were
not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had
not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)
Among the marginally attached, there were 355,000 discouraged workers in May, down by
183,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in May had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, compared with an average
monthly gain of 181,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job gains occurred in health
care and mining. (See table B-1.)
Employment in health care rose by 24,000 in May. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the
month, and employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up (+13,000).
Job growth in health care has averaged 22,000 per month thus far in 2017, compared with
an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.
Mining added 7,000 jobs in May. Employment in mining has risen by 47,000 since reaching
a recent low point in October 2016, with most of the gain in support activities for mining.
In May, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+38,000).
The industry has added an average of 46,000 jobs per month thus far this year, in line
with the average monthly job gain in 2016.
Employment in food services and drinking places also continued to trend up in May (+30,000)
and has grown by 267,000 over the past 12 months.
Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale
trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities,
and government, showed little change over the month.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4
hours in May. In manufacturing, the workweek also was unchanged at 40.7 hours, while
overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.
(See tables B-2 and B-7.)
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4
cents to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5
percent. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory
employees increased by 3 cents to $22.00. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down from +79,000
to +50,000, and the change for April was revised down from +211,000 to +174,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 66,000 less than
previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged
121,000 per month.
The Employment Situation for June is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 7, 2017,
at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).