US job growth came in below expectations in May with employers adding just 138,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent, the lowest it has been in more than 16 years, federal economists reported Friday morning. That was down a bit from April and was modestly below economists' expectations. Construction also added 11,000, as did financial services. Payroll processor ADP reported that in a private survey of companies, it found that a hefty 253,000 jobs were added in May, mostly among companies with fewer than 500 workers.
But dig deeper into the report and the picture gets uglier. Job gains are slowing as the labor market nears full employment. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent.
The mining sector, which has been a focus of President Donald Trump's, also added 7,000 jobs, continuing a rebound since a low point in October 2016. Department stores alone have cut 18,600 jobs in that period. That constitutes the biggest drop in full-time jobs in almost two years.
Even so, some segments of the economy that affect commercial space absorption still did reasonably well in terms of job creation. Over the past 12 months, job additions have averaged 188,000 per month.
For large cities (with a population over 1 million in the 2010 Census), the Denver area had the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.1 percent.
Job growth slowed last month, according to this morning's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's too soon to worry, but not too soon to start paying attention.
The unemployment rate edged down to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest level in 16 years. That might sound like good news.
But governments, manufacturers and retailers lost workers.More news: Arsene Wenger's future to be decided later this week
The expanded unemployment rate - which includes those who wanted to work but did not or could not seek employment - rose by 391,000.
The labor force tumbled by 429,000 people in May, while the household survey of employment showed a decrease of 233,000 people.
But the retail industry has shed 50,000 jobs the past three months as brick-and-mortar stores shutter amid a seismic shift to online shopping. However, it is quite evident that ObamaCare is still proving to be a tremendous drag on the economy. At the same time, labor force participation is also dropping, now at 62.7 percent for May.
With this latest jobs report out of the way, the runway is now clear for the Federal Reserve to raise benchmark interest rates when it meets June 13 and 14. "In short, although the headline employment gain was weaker than expected, there is little in the details to suggest a fundamental weakening in labor markets that would prevent the Federal Reserve from hiking rates again in June".
Investors, however, still see a hike as likely.
An increase of 144,000 people in employment in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 hasn't halted an overall increase in the country's official unemployment rate to 27.7%.