US job growth slows sharply in May; wage gains moderate

May jobs report: Hiring slowed down in May, just 75,000 jobs added

US employers added a weak 75,000 jobs in May

Bad news on Friday - that the USA economy only added 75,000 jobs last month, sorely short of the 175,000 analysts expected - was hailed as good news on Wall Street, with traders betting that the lousy jobs data will boost the likelihood of looser rates from the Fed.

The unemployment data added pressure ahead of the meeting of the Fed on June 18 and 19 after the central bank said it was open to considering a possible drop in the face of concern over the escalation in trade tensions between the United States with China and Mexico.

Unemployment held steady at 3-point-6 percent, meaning joblessness is still hovering near a half-century low.

Economists cautioned that May's job figures cover just one month and that broader trends indicate that hiring remains steady. Hiring in the previous two months was revised lower by a combined 75,000.

Earlier this week, a key metric of U.S. manufacturing activity showed that while manufacturing continues to expand in general, it did so last month at the slowest pace in over two years.

The economy is showing signs of sluggishness just as the expansion has reached its 10th anniversary. Analysts have warned the trade fights could undermine the economy, which will celebrate 10 years of expansion next month, the longest on record.

Consumers have been cautious about spending, and companies are scaling back their investment in high-cost machinery and equipment.

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The weaker-than-expected jobs report will be another factor for central bankers to consider as they work to preserve economic growth in the face of rising trade tensions.

Meanwhile, average hourly wages rose 0.2 percent compared to April to 27.83 USA dollars, disappointing economists who had hoped for slightly stronger gains. That was the smallest such annual increase since September. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent last month, the lowest since December 2000. All in all, monthly job gains have averaged 164,000 so far this year, a drop from last year's clip of 223,000.

Employers in the construction sector hired 4,000 workers in May after adding 30,000 jobs to payrolls in April. Manufacturing has been particularly weak over the past several months, and the goods-producing side of the economy has declined steadily since the middle of 2018, while the larger service sector continues to add jobs.

"The lack of meaningful jobs growth in manufacturing, and lower-than-average wage growth in manufacturing, gives another indication that Trump's trade war is hurting workers and the economy", Seth Harris, a distinguished scholar at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and former acting Secretary of Labor under former President Barack Obama, told Al Jazeera.

Manufacturing payrolls increased by 3,000 last month, after gaining 5,000 positions in April. And last week, he threatened to impose 5 percent tariffs on all Mexican imports to the United States beginning Monday. A strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods costlier overseas, has also slowed the production and export of manufactured goods. A separate report from the Fed showed that factory output fell 0.5% in April.

Automakers are cutting jobs and production as US sales have slowed.

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