U.S. Economy Added 280,000 Jobs in May

payrollOn Friday, June 5, 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 280,000 in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 5.5% from 5.4% in April. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 5, 2015.)

Job gains took place in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and healthcare; while mining employment continued to decline.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up from 85,000 to 119,000, and the change for April was revised down from 223,000 to 221,000. With these revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 32,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 207,000 per month.

Wages Increased in May

Average hourly earnings increased by eight cents to $24.96 or 0.3% from the prior month. They were up 2.3% from May of 2014.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT), the largest private employer in the United States, will raise minimum wages for more than 100,000 of its U.S. workers in some departments. This is the second time the world’s largest retailer has announced a wage hike this year.

Part-Time Work Prevails, Discouraged Workers Decline

In May, individuals employed part-time for economic reasons—those who couldn’t find full-time work—was unchanged at 6.7 million and hasn’t shown much improvement in recent months.

Those who are not looking for work because they believe there’s no work available for them, otherwise known as discouraged workers, amounted to 563,000 in May. They have declined, however, by 134,000 from the same period a year ago.

Fed Outlook

Policy makers in the Federal Reserve are closely monitoring employment, as the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate this year.

“This improvement in the labor market has brought the economy closer to one of the two goals of monetary policy assigned to the Fed by Congress—maximum employment. Less progress has been made toward the other goal, price stability,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in Rhode Island on May 22, 2015. (Source: The Federal Reserve, last accessed June 5, 2015.)