US Economy Adds 175,000 Jobs, Economy “Putters” Along

<a href="http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs51/i/2009/339/b/1/meh_wallpaper_by_shiftylem.png">deviant art</a>


The US economy added 175,000 jobs in May, more than economists had predicted, the Labor Department reported Friday. More people started looking for jobs again, too. But because the government’s main measure of unemployment only counts people as unemployed if they’re seeking work, the increase in job-seekers increased the official unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, up from April’s four-year low of 7.5 percent.

Employment increased in the service sector—in retail, hospitality, temporary help agencies, and education and health services, i.e. in the low-wage work that has been the hallmark of the current economic recovery. New jobs were also added in high-salaried professional services, such as accounting, consulting, PR, and legal work. And employment ticked upwards in construction, as new housing construction begins (barely) to come back to life. Factory work and government employment decreased.

Here’s what job creation in various industries looked like last month, via Quartz:

 

And here’s where the economy lost jobs:

 

Women did better than men last month, though in general men have fared better during the recovery:

The economy is only recovering gradually. Consumer confidence is up and stock and home values are up, but the total labor force is still a much smaller percentage of the population than it was before the recession.

“In general, the economy is just puttering along,” Joshua Shapiro, chief US economist with the consulting firm MFR Inc., told the New York Times Friday. “Companies can get by without hiring people, so they do.” A private-sector jobs report released earlier this week partially blamed government spending cuts and tax increases for mediocre job growth.

Even with the small improvement in jobs numbers, there has been little gain in wages: wages are up only 2 percent over the past year, Bloomberg reports.

And those who are still unemployed are faring worse. As the Times reports, the sequester cuts have forced almost every state to cut back on unemployment insurance benefits.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate