The US economy added a scant 69,000 jobs in May, the lowest number in a year, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent, the government said Friday.
The dismal report signaled that the much hoped-for recovery in the job market has stalled and fueled speculation that it may prompt the Federal Reserve to step in with a fresh round of economic stimulus.
The Labor Department’s closely watched workforce figures were well below expectations of a 150,000 jobs increase and for the jobless rate to hold steady at 8.1 percent from April.
“Today’s US employment report for May was bad,” said Jason Schenker at Prestige Economics. “Financial markets are likely to remain very concerned about a slowing pace of job creation.”
Total private-sector jobs rose by 82,000, offset by a decline of 13,000 in the public sector as government continues to rein in spending amid the slow economy.
The Labor Department also slashed its estimate of April job gains by 33 percent, to 77,000.
The labor market of the world’s largest economy softened dramatically in the current second quarter. In the first quarter, the average job gain was 226,000. In April and May, the average fell to 73,000.
The May jobs number was the lowest since May 2011, when 54,000 payrolls were gained.
The jobless rate increase to 8.2 percent was in part driven by a 0.2 percent rise in the participation rate as people joined the labor force, which added 642,000 jobs from April, and a rise of 220,000 in the number of unemployed, to 12.7 million.
[People seeking jobs wait in a queue at an employment fair in New York, May 2012. AFP Photo/Stan Honda]