Job Growth Softened in May

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Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 75,000 in May, while the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%. Residential construction employment increased by 5,200 in May, after a decline of 1,600 jobs in April. The total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) gained 4,000 jobs in May.

According to the Employment Situation Summary for May, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 75,000, following the increase of 224,000 jobs in April. The April increase was revised downward from its original estimate of a 263,000 increase. Monthly employment growth has averaged 164,000 per month for the first five months of 2019, compared with the average monthly growth of 223,000 over all of 2018. Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.4 million, with the average monthly growth of 196,000.

The unemployment rate remained at 3.6% in May, the lowest rate since December 1969. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, was unchanged in May, at 62.8%. The number of persons unemployed was little changed at 5.9 million and the number of persons employed increased by 113,000 in May.

Additionally, monthly employment data released by the BLS Establishment Survey indicates that employment in the overall construction sector increased by 4,000 in May. The number of residential construction jobs rose by 5,200 in May, following the decline of 1,600 jobs in April.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.9 million in May, broken down as 829,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction is 4,700 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 79,100 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 918,100 positions.

In May, the unemployment rate for construction workers decreased to 3.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 4.7% in April. The unemployment rate for construction workers dropped to the lowest rate since 2001, as shown in the figure above.



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