U.S. labor report: jobs up, jobless rate down

Employment continues to slowly increase in the United States even as the unemployment rate has decreased to its lowest level in 16 years.

According to Labor Department estimates for May, nonfarm payrolls grew 138,000 and the jobless rate slipped a tenth of a point to 4.3 percent.

Initial estimates for payroll gains were revised downward 37,000 to 174,000 in April and 29,000 to 50,000 in March. Given the latest numbers, payrolls have increased on average 121,000 a month over the past three months.

For May, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work was little changed at 6.9 million. Of those, 1.7 million have been out of work 27 weeks or longer.

Another 5.2 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they’ve been unable to find full-time positions.

The labor force participation rate slipped two-tenths of a point to 62.7 percent.

Job gains for May were spread out among industry sectors.

Professional and business services added 38,000 jobs, while food services and drinking places hired 30,000. Employment in health care grew 24,000, while mining payrolls increased 7,000.

Employment was little changed in most other major sectors, including the government.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours. The average manufacturing workweek remained unchanged at 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 4 cents to $26.22. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 63 cents, or 2.5 percent.