Job growth slows to 54,000 in May, rate up to 9.1% (by Greg Robb)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job growth decelerated sharply in May, the Labor Department said Friday. Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 54,000, much lower than the 125,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists. This is the smallest increase in nonfarm payroll since September. The unemployment rate ticked higher 9.1% in May from 9.0% in the previous month. Economists forecast the unemployment rate to fall to 8.9%. Average hourly earnings increased 6 cents, or 0.3% to $22.98. Economists had been expecting a 0.2% gain. Earnings are up a slim 1.8% in the past year. The average workweek was steady at 34.4 hours. The factory workweek rose 12 minutes to 40.6 hours while factory overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. Labor Department officials said they found no evidence that tornadoes or floods in the Midwest and South affected the data. There will be state and local estimates available later in June.