U.S. job growth slowing, firms await reforms



The Department of Labor also recently released more specific data about the job markets different US cities are experiencing. Yet economists said the drop was due in part to a contraction in the labor force, since the unemployment rate measures only those who are actively looking for work but can't find it. The consensus expectation of economists is that the Labor Department will report that employers added 176,000 jobs, according to a survey by FactSet, a data provider.

Economists have expected wage gains to increase as the job market got tighter, but average hourly earnings increased just four cents in May to $26.22. Some say the U.S.is not yet at full employment, because workers still are not seeing a significant pickup in wage growth.

Temporary workers are more consistently demanding higher wages and full-time work, said Rachel Chapman, owner of an Express Employment Professionals staffing office in Huntsville, Ala. Nationally, the workweek for construction laborers rose by half an hour in April, and retained that level last month.

The historically low unemployment rate likely gives the Fed leeway to increase the central bank's benchmark interest rate this month.

The department's latest employment report suggests that eight years after the Great Recession, job growth is slowing after an extended period of gains.

But some sectors were shedding positions, with the struggling retail sector employing 6,100 fewer workers, and automakers losing 1,500, amid declining new auto sales. The labor force participation rate was 62.7%, retreating from earlier this year.

"We're clearly bringing people back into the job force", Cohn said.

The figures largely represent an aging population of Americans are increasingly retiring, but it could hit that modest wage growth is failing to pull some potential workers off the sidelines.

The past two months of job growth were also lower than originally reported, with March revised down to just 50,000 jobs added and April down to 174,000.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected an increase of 180,000 in non-farm payrolls, which would have been in line with average monthly gains seen over the past year.

The U.S. labor market has been one of the brightest spots in a long recovery marked by slow economic growth.

The labor market was largely expected to return to form last month after volatile weather made for sharp gyrations the first five months of the year.

Despite the slowdown in job growth last month, the USA economy is running neither too hot nor too cold, with growth holding at a tepid but far from recessionary 2 percent annual rate. Meanwhile, better-paying work in fields from construction to health care continues to expand, which could support firmer wage growth this year. Retailers and manufacturers shed jobs and leisure and hospitality, a category that includes restaurants, increase at a slower rate. Employment in manufacturing also dipped.

A broad measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, fell two-tenths of a per centage point to 8.4 per cent, the lowest since November 2007.

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