The unemployment rate stayed at 3.6%, slightly higher than the half-century low recorded in February 2020, before the pandemic hit.
While the number of jobs added was down from the revised total of 436,000 in April, it was better than many were forecasting. The consensus of economists surveyed by Reuters had been for a gain of 325,000 jobs. And while the unemployment rate did not fall to 3.5% as predicted, it remained at a level considered to be full employment by many economists.
The job gains were widespread, with 69% of the industries tracked by the Labor Department adding workers. The major exception was in retail, the nation’s largest sector in terms of jobs. In May, there was a net loss of 60,700 retail jobs, according to the report.
The shortage of available workers helped to raise average wages in Friday’s jobs report. The average hourly wage of $31.95 was up 5.2% compared to a year ago. But that was slightly lower than the rate of increase in five of the last seven months. And it’s less than the pace of price increases being paid by consumers for everything from gas to groceries, meaning the larger paychecks are not keeping up with inflation.
This story will be updated.