Blog | Tax and Budget Policy

Economy Gains 223,000 Jobs in May; Unemployment Little Changed at 3.8%

The U.S. economy gained 223,000 jobs in May, and unemployment was little changed at 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the labor market continues to recover at only a tempered pace, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee should not raise interest rates.

While unemployment hovering around 4% may seem rosy, 1.2 million unemployed workers in America have been looking fruitlessly for work for more than six months, and 5 million workers are stuck in part-time jobs while looking for full-time work. Wages for too many of us have remained stubbornly low.

America’s working people demand better.

  • We want federal and state legislation to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to the median wage.

  • We want new appointments to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to be committed to full employment, which has been a sidelined priority of the Federal Reserve for far too long, and we want full employment to be measured by the growth of real wages in line with productivity.

  • We want budget and tax policies that prioritize full employment and good-paying jobs, including massive and sustained investments in America’s infrastructure.

In response to the May jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Last month’s biggest job gains were in retail trade (31,000), health care (29,000), construction (25,000), professional and technical services (23,000), transportation and warehousing (19,000), manufacturing (18,000), and mining (6,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates decreased for adult men (3.5%), blacks (5.9%) and Asians (2.1%). The unemployment rate for teenagers (12.8%), Hispanics (4.9%), whites (3.5%) and adult women (3.3%) showed little or no change in May.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in May and accounted for 19.4% of the unemployed.

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