US jobless rate inches up to 8.2% in May amid mediocre job growth

01 June 2012 14:28  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US unemployment inched up to 8.2% in May from April’s 8.1%, the government said on Friday, as just 69,000 new jobs became available – less than half the 150,000 workforce additions that many forecasters had expected.

In its monthly report on employment, the US Department of Labor said that while the nation added workers in healthcare, transportation, warehousing and wholesale trade, those gains were largely offset by continuing declines in construction jobs. Other major employment sectors were unchanged.

The mediocre 69,000 job additions for May is even lower than April’s disappointing 115,000 employment gains, and May’s figures mark the fourth straight month of declining or underperforming workforce development.

The US economy needs to add about 150,000 new jobs each month just to provide employment for young people entering the workforce.

Economists said that to make any serious progress in reducing the unemployment rate, the country should generate 300,000–350,000 jobs per month for multiple quarters.

US employment had seen more or less steady improvement through the fourth quarter of 2011, with monthly job gains above 200,000 in December, reaching its most recent high point of around 260,000 new workers added to payrolls in January.

But the rate of jobs growth eased in February and March, edged lower still in April and has sunk even further with the May employment report.

The weakening jobs numbers in the past four months were revealed amid other indications that the US economic recovery is tottering.

On Thursday, private sector and government reports showed that layoffs and applications for unemployment benefits both rose in May, and the Commerce Department revised US GDP growth in the first quarter down to 1.9% from its month-before estimate of 2.2%.

US consumer confidence slipped in May for the second month, and employers appear to be worried about the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis and its possible impact on US trade.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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