Breaking News
0

U.S. job growth surges, unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent

Economic IndicatorsJun 01, 2018 01:49PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Job seekers line up to apply during "Amazon Jobs Day" at the Amazon.com Fulfillment Center in Fall River

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth accelerated in May and the unemployment rate dropped to an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, pointing to rapidly tightening labor market conditions, which could stir concerns about inflation.

The closely watched employment report released by the Labor Department on Friday also showed wages rising solidly, cementing expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this month and boosting the probability of two more hikes later in the year. It renewed fears about the economy overheating.

"The strength of the labor market supports our forecast for the Fed to raise rates three more times this year," said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. "The Fed is going to get antsy that the labor market will blow too far past full employment."

Nonfarm payrolls surged by 223,000 jobs last month as warm weather bolstered hiring at construction sites. There were also big gains in retail and leisure and hospitality payrolls. The economy created 15,000 more jobs than previously reported in March and April.

Last month's one-tenth of a percentage point drop in the unemployment rate pushed it to a level last seen in April 2000. The jobless rate is now where the Fed forecast it would be by the end of this year.

Average hourly earnings rose eight cents, or 0.3 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in April. That pushed the annual increase in average hourly earnings to 2.7 percent from 2.6 percent in April.

The strong employment report added to a string of upbeat economic data, including consumer spending, industrial production and construction spending, that have suggested economic growth was regaining speed early in the second quarter after expanding at a moderate 2.2 percent annualized rate in the January-March period.

The Atlanta Fed is forecasting gross domestic product rising at a 4.8 percent pace in the second quarter. The strength comes even as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion income tax cut package and increased government spending is yet to be felt.

But there are dark clouds on the horizon. A decision this week by the Trump administration to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union has renewed fears of a trade war, causing financial market volatility. Trouble has also been brewing in Europe.

Some economists believe the political tensions in Europe and a protectionist domestic trade policy could dissuade the Fed from taking a more hawkish stance when policymakers meet on June 12-13. Traders, however, raised bets for four rate hikes this year.

The U.S. central bank lifted borrowing costs in March and forecast at least two more rate increases for this year. Inflation is running just below the Fed's 2.0 percent target.

U.S. Treasury yields rose and the dollar gained versus a basket of currencies. Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher.

BROAD JOB GAINS

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast nonfarm payrolls increasing by 188,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate steady at 3.9 percent.

Monthly job gains have averaged about 179,000 over the last three months, more than the roughly 120,000 needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population. Though the labor market is viewed as being close to or at full employment, there is still some slack remaining.

The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one, fell to 62.7 percent last month from 62.8 percent in April. It has declined for three straight months.

Still, the labor market is getting tighter. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, fell to 7.6 percent last month, the lowest since May 2001, from 7.8 percent in April.

With job growth expected to slow as employers struggle to find qualified workers, economists expect wage growth will pick up significantly. There is growing anecdotal evidence of worker scarcity.

A report from the Fed this week showed shortages of truck drivers, sales personnel, carpenters, electricians, painters, and information technology professionals.

"As labor becomes increasingly scarce, we expect to see further strengthening in average hourly earnings," said John Silvia, chief economist at Well Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Job gains in May were across all sectors. Construction payrolls increased by 25,000 after rising by 21,000 jobs in April. A separate report from the Commerce Department on Friday showed construction spending surging in April.

Manufacturers added another 18,000 jobs last month on top of the 25,000 created in April. Further gains are likely, with a survey from the Institute for Supply Management on Friday showing a pickup in factory activity in May.

The survey suggested manufacturers, especially in the food, beverage and tobacco product industries, were starting to run into labor supply issues. There were also complaints about soaring prices, partially brought about by the steel tariffs.

Government payrolls increased by 5,000 in May, reversing April's 3,000 drop. Retailers boosted employment by 31,100 jobs last month. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector increased by 21,000 jobs.

U.S. job growth surges, unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email