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Economy adds 175,000 jobs in May; unemployment rate rises to 7.6%

June 07, 2013|By Don Lee
  • Job seeker Anu Vatal of Chicago speaks with a recruiter during a career fair in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Job seeker Anu Vatal of Chicago speaks with a recruiter during a career fair… (M. Spencer Green / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The nation kept up its moderate but steady job growth in May as employers added 175,000 net new positions, slightly higher than the prior month, the government reported Friday.

The unemployment rate edged up to 7.6% from 7.5% in April. That was the first increase since the year began with a jobless figure of 7.9%, but the rise was partly because more people reentered the job market last month -- a sign that workers may be feeling more hopeful about their hiring prospects.

In general, recent surveys have suggested improved public confidence about the economy as stocks and home prices have moved higher and the recovery seems to be weathering setbacks from federal spending cuts under the so-called sequestration.

In May, federal payrolls shrank by 14,000, bringing to 45,000 the total number of U.S. government jobs lost in the last three months.

Private-sector employers, on the whole, continued to hire at a moderate pace. But May also continued a pattern in which many of the new jobs are relatively low-paying.

Last month, for example, restaurants and drinking establishments added 38,000 jobs; this sector has created a whopping 337,000 positions over the last 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. That is more than the total jobs added by healthcare employers during the same period.

Moreover, retail trade and temporary-help businesses, which also tend to provide more modest wages and hours, combined added another 53,000 jobs. Meanwhile, manufacturing lost a dribble of jobs in May for the third straight month, and the construction industry added a small 7,000 positions.

Overall, the 175,000 jobs added last month were just a tad above most analysts' expectations. April's job growth was revised lower, to 149,000 from 165,000 initially reported.

Average hourly earnings in May were little changed, up just a penny from April, to $23.89; and average weekly hours worked last month held steady at 34.5.

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