US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The overall unemployment rate again fell by one tenth of a percent in May, to 4.3 percent, as reported by the US Department of Labor. It was 4.7 percent a year ago in May 2016.

The civilian labor force participation rate fell by two tenths of a percent in May, to 62.7 percent. The labor force participation rate has not changed significantly since late 2013.

The employment-population ratio fell by two tenths of a percent to 60.0 percent in May. This marks the first monthly decline in the employment-population ratio since October of last year.*

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 138,000 in May. The payroll employment numbers for both March and April of 2017 were adjusted downward. Employment gains for those months are now 66,000 less than previously reported.

The unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree again fell by one tenth of a percent to 2.3 percent in May. The rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree has not significantly changed since March 2015.

*It should be noted that as of January 2016, updated population estimates are being utilized when calculating employment data. BLS did not modify previous months utilizing the new estimates, so if comparing data from 2016 to earlier months, understand that there will be slight differences in the way the data was derived.

Some details directly from the BLS report:


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, compared with an average monthly gain of 181,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job gains occurred in health care and mining.

Employment in health care rose by 24,000 in May. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the month, and employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up (+13,000). Job growth in health care has averaged 22,000 per month thus far in 2017, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.

Mining added 7,000 jobs in May. Employment in mining has risen by 47,000 since reaching a recent low point in October 2016, with most of the gain in support activities for mining.

In May, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+38,000). The industry has added an average of 46,000 jobs per month thus far this year, in line with the average monthly job gain in 2016.

Employment in food services and drinking places also continued to trend up in May (+30,000) and has grown by 267,000 over the past 12 months.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in May. In manufacturing, the workweek also was unchanged at 40.7 hours, while overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.00.