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U.S. economy adds 339,000 jobs in May

Published 06/02/2023, 08:39 AM
© Reuters.

Investing.com -- U.S. employers unexpectedly increased hiring in May, although wage growth eased, in one of the final data points that Federal Reserve officials will have available as they mull over their next rate decision later this month.

According to data from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, the world's largest economy added 339,000 jobs last month, climbing from an upwardly revised reading of 294,000 in April. Economists had seen the figure at 180,000.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to 3.7% from 3.4% in April and average hourly earnings grew by 0.3% after advancing 0.4% month-on-month. On an annual basis, wage growth cooled slightly to 4.3%.

Fed officials are paying particularly close attention to these figures ahead of their upcoming two-day gathering starting on June 13. Debate still remains over whether the U.S. central bank will skip an increase in borrowing costs or continue on an over-year-old policy tightening campaign aimed at corralling elevated inflation.

Softening the labor market has been a central pillar of these now ten consecutive rate hikes. In theory, a cooling in labor demand may contribute to a slowdown in price growth via a weakening in wage pressures.

The probability that the Fed will hike rates by a quarter percentage point ticked up marginally after the jobs report, but investors still widely expect the bank to opt for a pause, CME Group's FedWatch Tool showed.

Analysts at ING said the skip scenario remains the "most likely" outcome, but noted that a hotter-than-anticipated May consumer price index print "could make it a very close call."

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