Friday's US jobs report for May likely to show steady gains

US job market looks solid 8 years after recession ended

The employment report came a day after Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in a bid to preserve U.S. jobs.

The Labor Department's monthly employment report is closely watched as a a gauge of the economy and, of late, for hints on whether the Federal Reserve is likely to hike interest rates.

Job creation kept pace with population growth in May, but it was not what financial markets were expecting, said Paul Diggle, senior economist at Aberdeen Asset Management. "But they might well influence what happens next", he said. But taken on its own, May's job growth wasn't bad: It represented the 80th straight month of gains, the longest such streak on record.

"Today's jobs number is disappointing, but the overall trend is still very positive and the unemployment rate continues to decline", said Tony Bedikian, managing director of global markets at Citizens Bank. In May 2001, those wages were up 4 percent from a year earlier.

A one- or two-month drop in the labor force isn't necessarily cause for alarm.

The number of unemployed at 6.9 million and the unemployment rate of 4.3 percent were almost unchanged from the prior month. Over the past three months, employers have added an average of 121,000 jobs each month, compared to an average of 201,000 jobs per month in the three months prior.

Economists, in fact, said it was unlikely that even sluggish hiring in May would keep the Fed from raising its key short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point at a mid-June meeting. That means the unemployment rate can fall for good reasons (because unemployed workers found jobs) or bad ones (because they gave up looking for work). USA stock index futures trimmed gains. The 24,300 new healthcare hires in May boosted total sector employment to 15.7 million.

Minutes of the Fed's May 2-3 policy meeting, which were published last week, showed that while policymakers agreed they should hold off hiking rates until there was evidence the growth slowdown was transitory, "most participants" believed "it would soon be appropriate" to raise borrowing costs.

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The jobs report is a closely watched barometer of the U.S. economy and one of the metrics the United States central bank considers as it sets interest rates.

Wages are up slightly, up by 4 cents per hour to an average hourly wage of $26.22, and up 63 cents over the past 12-month period.

That would keep the year-on-year increase in wages at 2.5 percent.

President Donald Trump's administration shook off concerns about the report.

This measure, however, does not account for those individuals who have dropped out of the labor force-it simply measures the percent of those who did not have a job but actively sought one over the month. It has rebounded from a multi-decade low of 62.4 percent in September 2015 and economists see limited room for further gains as the pool of discouraged workers shrinks.

But losses in the retail sector continued, with payrolls falling by 6,100 over the month.

While other data on Thursday showed a jump in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the data was probably distorted by the Memorial Day holiday.

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