Nationwide, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage points to 4.7 percent in May, and non-farm payroll employment changed little (+38,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, while mining continued its downward trend. Employment in information decreased due to a strike, the BLS reported.

Household Survey Data

In May, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage points to 4.7 percent, and the number of unemployed declined by 484,000 to 7.4 million. Both measures showed little change from August to April, the bureau reported.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.3 percent), adult women (4.2 percent), whites (4.1 percent), and Hispanics (5.6 percent) declined in May. The rates for teenagers (16 percent), blacks (8.2 percent), and Asians (4.1 percent) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 178,000 to 1.9 million in May. These individuals accounted for 25.1 percent of the unemployed. The number of persons unemployed less than five weeks decreased by 338,000 to 2.2 million.

In May, the civilian labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 62.6 percent. The rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point over the past two months, offsetting gains in the first quarter.

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The employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, was unchanged in May, the bureau reported.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 468,000 to 6.4 million in May, after showing little movement since November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because hours had been cut back or because of an inability to find full-time work.

In May, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier (not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and  looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 538,000 discouraged workers in May, essentially unchanged from a year earlier (not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in May had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in May (+38,000). Job growth occurred in health care. Mining continued to lose jobs, and a strike resulted in job losses in information, the bureau reported.

Health care added 46,000 jobs in May, with increases occurring in ambulatory health care services (+24,000), hospitals (+17,000) and nursing care facilities (+5,000). Over the year, health care employment has increased by 487,000.

In May, mining employment continued to decline (-10,000). Since reaching a peak in September 2014, mining has lost 207,000 jobs. Support activities for mining accounted for three-fourths of the jobs lost during this period, including 6,000 in May.

Employment in information declined by 34,000 in May. About 35,000 workers in the telecommunications industry were on strike and not on company payrolls during the survey reference period.

Manufacturing saw employment in durable goods declined by 18,000 in May, with job losses of 7,000 in machinery and 3,000 in furniture and related products.

Employment in professional and business services changed little in May (+10,000), after increasing by 55,000 in April. Within the industry, professional and technical services added 26,000 jobs in May, in line with average monthly gains over the prior 12 months. Employment in temporary help services was little changed over the month (-21,000) but is down by 64,000 thus far this year.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in May. The manufacturing workweek increased by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, and manufacturing overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.6 hours.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 5 cents to $25.59, following an increase of 9 cents in April. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $21.49 in May.

Unemployment rates decline in April

Unemployment rates were lower in April than a year earlier in 269 of the 387 metropolitan areas, higher in 94 areas and unchanged in 24 areas, the bureau also reported this week. Twenty-five areas had jobless rates of less than 3 percent and seven areas had rates of at least 10 percent. Colorado’s unemployment rate in April was 3.1 percent, the bureau reported. The state’s unemployment rate has, for the most part, declined since December.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 327 metropolitan areas, decreased in 54 areas, and was unchanged in six areas. The national unemployment rate in April was 4.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 5.1 percent a year earlier.

Metropolitan Area Unemployment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Ames, Iowa, had the lowest unemployment rate in April at 2 percent. El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate at 20.1 percent. A total of 195 areas had April jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 4.7 percent, 177 areas had rates above it and 15 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.

El Centro, Calif., had the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decrease in April (-4 percentage points). Four other areas had rate declines of at least 2 percentage points. The largest over-the-year rate increase occurred in Casper, Wyo. (+2.9 percentage points), followed by Odessa, Texas (+2.1 points).

Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, had the lowest unemployment rate in April, 2.9 percent.