Notwithstanding a slew of challenges facing the country's economy, the US labor market posted broad gains in job creation for the month of May, latest data showed. Unemployment, however, edged up slightly.
US employers added a robust 280,000 jobs in May, the Labor Department announced Friday, a far higher number than expected. It shows that the economy is back on track after starting the year in a slump.
Businesses in health care, retail sales and tourism hired new workers generously during the month, and firm gains also came in construction and government.
At the same time, wages increased 2.3 percent from a year ago. Other numbers also pointed towards a stronger market, with figures for short-term unemployed and labor market dropouts also declining significantly.
The unemployment rate, however, ticked up slightly to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent in April. The Labor Department said that the increase in jobless rate occurred for a good reason: Hundreds of thousands more people sought jobs in May, and not all found them.
Last month's strong job growth suggests that employers remained confident enough to keep hiring even after the economy shrank 0.7 percent during the first three months of the year.
Employers seem to be envisioning a healthier economy, given that the weekly number of people applying for unemployment benefits - a proxy for layoffs - has remained under a historically low 300,000 for more than four months.
By holding on to nearly all their workers, businesses are ensuring that they will have the capacity to respond to greater customer demand.
sri/uhe (AFP, AP)