The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in May, but only 100,000 jobs were added to the economy last month in the smallest employment gain in more than three years, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate dipped 0.1 percent last month, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The 5.2 percent rate was the lowest since unemployment stood at 5 percent in March, the bureau said.Jobless rates for most groups held steady from the previous month, but the unemployment rate for adult men declined 0.3 percent to 4.3 percent, following an increase of a virtually similar magnitude in April, the bureau said.
Total employment grew at its slowest pace since 84,000 jobs were added to the economy in March 1986. Employment growth has averaged 160,000 during the last three months, down from a pace of 275,000 in the previous 12 months.
Service jobs accounted for nearly all the 100,000 new jobs, which pushed non-farm payroll employment to a seasonally adjsted 108.2 million. But job creation in the service sector also has slowed in recent months, the bureau said.
Employment in goods-producing industries declined 35,000 in May, wiping out small gains made in February and April, the bureau said.
Manufacturing employment has fallen by about 30,000 in the last two months and is not back at its January level, the bureau said. The decline in manufacturing was widespread, with employment decreasing in most industries.
Construction employment dipped slightly during May and has not shown consistent growth since January, the bureau said.
The average workweek for production workers declined 0.3 hour to 34.6 hours in May, marking a return to the levels of February and March, the bureau said. Both the factory workweek and overtime fell 0.2 hour to 41 and 3.8 hours, respectively, the bureau said.