Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

U.S. employers add 175,000 jobs; unemployment rate up to 7.6%

WASHINGTON — More Americans hunted for jobs in May, and more companies filled them — signs of confidence and resilience for the slow-healing U.S. economy.

The 175,000 jobs that employers added last month were the latest evidence that the economy could be poised for stronger growth in coming months, despite tax increases and government spending cuts.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. But that increase was only because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters of them found jobs.

Investors seemed pleased that the report hit a sweet spot: The job growth showed the U.S. economy's sturdiness. Yet the gain was modest enough that many analysts think the Federal Reserve will continue making bond purchases intended to stimulate growth for at least several more months. The purchases have eased long-term loan rates and lifted stock prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 200 points.

"Job growth is still a bit weaker than desired," said Russell Price, an economist at Ameriprise Financial. But the steadiness of the job gains "is a testament to the economy's much improved underlying fundamentals."

The housing market is strengthening, auto sales are up and consumer confidence has reached a five-year peak. Stock prices are near record highs, and the budget deficit has shrunk.

U.S. employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs in the past three months. But the May gain almost exactly matched the average increase of the previous 12 months: 172,000.

Reflecting a recent trend, many of the jobs added in May were lower-paying ones, which aren't likely to fuel as much consumer spending and economic growth as higher-paying jobs that have disappeared.

Yet many Americans appear more optimistic about their job prospects: 420,000 people started looking for work in May. As a result, the percentage of Americans 16 and older either working or looking for work rose to 63.4 percent from a 34-year low of 63.3 percent in April.

This is called the labor force participation rate. Higher participation can raise the unemployment rate. That's because once people without a job start looking for one, they're counted as unemployed.

Labor force participation has been falling since peaking at 67.3 percent in 2000. That's partly the result of baby boomers' retiring and dropping out of the workforce.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, thinks an improving job market will lead more Americans to seek jobs. He predicts that the participation rate will level off around 63.5 percent.

The unemployment rate is derived from a survey of households, which found that more people started looking for work in May. Because some didn't find jobs right away, the number of unemployed rose 101,000 to 11.7 million.

The job gain for the month is calculated from a separate survey of employers.

Manufacturers cut 8,000 jobs. The federal government shed 14,000. Both were the third straight month of cuts for those industries. Over the past three months, the federal government has cut 45,000 jobs.

The number of temporary jobs rose by about 26,000. The economy has added temporary jobs for eight straight months, suggesting that employers are responding to more demand but aren't confident enough to hire permanent workers.

Industries that rely directly on consumer spending hired at a healthy pace — a sign of confidence that consumers will keep spending. Retailers added 28,000 jobs. Restaurants added 38,000.

Those categories include many lower-paying occupations. By contrast, the recession sharply cut jobs in higher-paying industries such as manufacturing, construction and finance, which have yet to recover.

Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo, calculated that about 60 percent of the jobs created in May were in lower-paying fields. Even in a professional field such as health care, one of the biggest job creators was home health care services, where care providers earn about $10 an hour, according to government data, he said.

"It's hard to get meaningful income growth with these types of jobs," Vitner said.

Employment gains, losses

Professional/business services: + 57,000

Leisure and hospitality: +43,000

Retail: +27,700

Temporary help services: +25,600

Health care: +10,700

Construction: +7,000

Financial services: +4,000

Transportation and warehousing: – 3,900

Manufacturing: – 8,000

Source: McClatchy Newspapers

Comments
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Published: 12/15/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17