In what is being called hailed almost universally as a “solid all-around report,” the U.S. Labor Department said that employers added 217,000 workers in May 2014 and that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent.
The job gains were fairly broad with the professional and business services industry adding 55,000 jobs, healthcare jobs expanding by 34,000, social assistance programs adding 21,000 workers, and transportation and warehousing employment rising by 16,000.
Monthly job gains have averaged 203,000 since the beginning of the fourth quarter 2013, and the average monthly reported job growth has been 213,000 in the first five months of 2014.
The Labor Department announced only very slight revisions to previously reported numbers, with the job gains from March and April falling by a total of 6,000.
Part of the reason for the optimism in the jobs report is that decline in the labor force participation rate seems to have stopped in May. The labor force participation rate in the month was unchanged from April after several months of decline.
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents to $24.38. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent, faster than inflation.
The U-6 alternative measure of unemployment, often called the “real” unemployment rate, fell slightly to 12.2 percent from 12.3 percent in April. It’s the lowest reading since October 2008 and down from 13.8 percent from just a year ago. The U-6 factors in those who have given up looking for work or are employed part time but want full time jobs.