The May Jobs Report in 8 Charts

A tour through the data

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released its May Employment Situation Summary, better know as the monthly jobs report.

Here are 8 charts to summarize what we learned this month.

1. The headline unemployment rate (the “U-3”) fell in May to 4.3%, down one-tenth of one percentage point from April. The under-employment rate (the “U-6”) also fell and is now at 8.4%. Both of these are at historic lows: the last time the U-3 was this low was 2001 and the U-6 hasn’t been at 8.4% since 2007.

2. 138,000 (non-farm) jobs were added to the economy in May. This is down from the 211,000 added in April and below analysts’ expectations of 184,000, but continues the longest streak of consecutive job growth on record — we’re now at 80 straight months of growth. In the last 12 months, 5.55 million jobs have been added to the American economy.

3. This month’s BLS release also revealed that slightly fewer Americans are in the workforce. The prime age (25-54) employment-population ratio dipped down to 78.4%, twenty basis points lower than in April, while the labor force participation rate fell to 62.7%, down from 62.9% in April.

4. These declines in the workforce only appear for men, though. Among males, the prime age employment-to-population ratio fell from 85.4% to 85.3%. For women, this ratio actually ticked up to 71.8%, up from 71.7% last month. This matches the rate seen in March, both of which mark a post-recession high.

5. Average nonmanagerial wages for private-sector workers increased in May to $22.00, up 2.42% year-over-year. This is the second-best month for wage growth of 2017. As Neil Irwin recently reported in The New York Times, it’s surprising that wage growth isn’t stronger, given that “the labor market is the strongest it has been in a decade”.

6. Twelve of the fourteen major American industries experienced year-over-year job growth in May, led by mining (up 4.7%), professional services (up 3.1%), and construction (up 2.9%). On the other hand, the information (which includes, for example, jobs in broadcasting and publishing) and utilities sectors have fewer jobs this month than in May 2016.

7. Though the number of jobs in mining increased this month, as they have since November 2016, that industry still has a big hole to climb out of. Prior to its current job streak, it lost jobs every month dating back to 2015. The other industry currently getting lots of political attention — manufacturing — actually lost jobs this month and its share of U.S. jobs is now its lowest on record. On the positive side, the education and health services and professional and and business services industries continue to steadily add jobs.

8. This month’s jobs report had the worst news for middle-skill workers as the unemployment rate in May actually increased among workers with only a high school education or “some college.” Fortunately, it fell for those with less than a high school diploma (or equivalent) and for those with at least a college degree.

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