The economy added 217,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent. The jobs number is a bit above the monthly average over the last six months, enough growth to keep the economic situation from getting worse but not enough to produce what anyone would call boom times.
The number of people employed in the United States reached 138.5 million, a new record, finally surpassing the previous record set in January 2008 before the financial crisis. But the population since then has increased by five percent. So the labor participation rate, at 62.8 percent (unchanged from last month) is well below the rate in January 2008, when it was 66.2 percent.
There are still 7.3 million workers working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment or have had their hours cut back. There are 697,000 “discouraged” workers, little changed from a year ago. Overall teenage unemployment remains a dismal 19.2 percent while for black teenagers it’s an appalling 31.1 percent. That’s down from 36.8 percent last month, but this number tends to be volatile.
All in all this is about an average jobs report for the Obama era. Nothing to write home about but not calamitous either.