U.S. job growth slows with modest May gain

U.S. payrolls grew by an estimated 54,000 in May, a meager gain compared to an average increase of 220,000 over the previous three months.

The national unemployment rate edged up a tenth to 9.1 percent.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payrolls were little changed with a net increase of 54,000 jobs.

Initial estimates for job gains in April and March were revised downward a total of 39,000 for a combined increase of 426,000.

For May, private sector hiring rose 83,000. That’s far lower than the average of 244,000 net new private-sector jobs over the previous three months.

Employment rose 44,000 in professional and business services, with about 18,000 of that gain in accounting and bookkeeping services. Health care employment continued to trend upward with a net gain of 17,000 jobs in May. The mining sector added another  7,000 net jobs.

Employment in local government continued to decline with a net loss of 28,000 positions. Local government employment has declined 446,000 since peaking in September 2008.

Employment in most other major industry sectors remained unchanged.

The average workweek for employees on nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours in May. The average manufacturing workweek increased 12 minutes to 40.6 hours.

The average hourly earnings of employees on private nonfarm payrolls  rose 6 cents in May to $22.98. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 1.8 percent.