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Jobless Rate of 5.5% Essentially Is Unchanged

June 04, 1988|ART PINE | Times Staff Writer

According to the payroll survey, virtually all of May's job growth came in the service sector of the economy. Job growth in the medical services industry continued to expand rapidly, swelling by 35,000 jobs in May. The wholesale trade sector also increased its hiring significantly over the month.

The bulk of the increase in unemployment came among adult men, whose jobless rate rose to 4.9%, after a decline to 4.6% in April. Jobless rates for other categories of workers were little changed over the month. These included rates of 4.9% for adult women, 15.6% for teen-agers, 12.4% for blacks and 9% for Latinos. The total number of people out of work rose to 6.78 million, up 173,000 from April.

A Marked Improvement

At the same time, however, the May figures also showed a marked improvement in the ability of Americans seeking full-time work to find it rather than having to settle for part-time jobs. The number of people holding part-time jobs "for economic reasons" fell by 350,000 over the month, the department disclosed.

Those on the lookout for signs of possible new inflation pressures found one disturbing note in Friday's report. The figures showed that the department's index of hourly earnings of payroll workers rose 0.5% in May, indicating that wage pressures--a major factor in the inflation picture--may be intensifying. The index rose 0.4% in April.

However, Brookings' Perry said he thought that despite the May increase, overall wage pressures remained relatively modest. "If you ask whether we're off to the races, I still would say no," he said.

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