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National unemployment rate inches up as health care adds jobs in May


Other sectors grow as president, GOP debate U.S. economic strength.

newspaper headline unemployment: © Zerbor - stock.adobe.com

© Zerbor - stock.adobe.com

The health care sector again added 52,000 jobs in May but the national unemployment rate edged upward 0.3% to 3.7% in May.

The monthly gain for health care surpassed the average monthly addition of 50,000 jobs over the last year, according to the figures published June 2 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor.

Overall, total nonfarm employment grew by 339,000 in May, which was consistent with the average of 341,000 jobs added per month over the last 12 months. New positions came in professional and business services, government, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance.

Health care growing

Within health care, all areas added jobs except medical and diagnostic laboratories, which dipped by 400 positions, and other ambulatory health care services, in which employment dropped by 1,100 workers.

For gains, ambulatory health care services led with 23,900 new jobs and hospitals added 19,600 new jobs. Physicians’ offices added 8,200 positions, while home health services grew by 5,800 workers and offices of dentists added 4,200 jobs.

Outpatient care centers added 3,800 positions and offices of other health practitioners added 3,200 jobs.

BLS noted the overall and industry figures are preliminary and subject to revision.

Other sectors

Professional and business services added 64,000 jobs in May, following a similarly sized gain in April. Government employment grew by 56,000 workers, topping the 12-month average gain of 42,000, but still 0.9% lower than pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.

Leisure and hospitality jumped 48,000 jobs, led by 33,000 new jobs in food services and drinking places. That industry added an average of 77,000 jobs a month for the last year and in that sector, employment was below the February 2020 level by 2.1%.

Construction added 25,000 jobs, beating the 12-month monthly average of 17,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing grew by 24,000 positions, with additions in transit and ground passenger transportation, couriers and messengers, and air transportation.

In social assistance, there were 22,000 new jobs, slightly below the monthly average of 23,000 positions for the last year. Employment generally was flat for other major industries.

Reaction in Washington

In a statement, President Joe Biden touted his economic plan for results including creation of 13 million jobs since he took office. Unemployment has been less than 4% for 16 months in a row, the best since the 1960s, with more working-age people in the workforce and inflation falling for 10 months.

“In short, the Biden economic plan is working,” the president’s statement said. “And due to the historic action taken by Congress this week, my economic plan will continue to deliver good jobs for the American people in communities throughout the country. I look forward to signing the bipartisan budget agreement into law. The agreement protects our historic and hard-earned economic recovery, and all the progress that American workers have made in the last two years. And it protects key priorities and accomplishments from the last two years.

“Our work is far from finished, but this agreement is a reminder of what’s possible when we act in the best interests of our country,” the president’s statement said.

The Republican National Committee issued a statement that gas prices average about $3.57, or $1 more per gallon than when Biden became president. Inflation still is high and at least one Fox News poll found 83% of people described the nation’s economic situation as negative.

"In Biden’s economy, families are forced to pay more for travel, gas, and groceries while seeing their paychecks shrink because of Bidenflation,” said the statement from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “Biden’s reckless spending and failed policies put hardworking Americans last and voters squarely blame Biden and the Democrats for the harm they are causing struggling families across the country."

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