Commentary Magazine

The Latest Jobs Report

The American economy gained 280,000 jobs last month, well above economists’ prediction of 225,000. But the unemployment number ticked up a notch, to 5.5 percent. That might actually be a good sign, showing more people moving into the jobs market as they become more confident of finding work. The participation rate, which was at 62.9 percent last May and 62.6 percent this April, is now at 63 percent. But discouraged workers and those who are working part-time but want full-time work remains high, at 10.8 percent.

Wages rose last month as well, up .03 percent for the month and up 2.3 percent from a year earlier. That is better than the 2 percent average of recent months.

As with last year, the economy in the second quarter is bouncing back from a bad first quarter amid lousy weather in much of the country, a stronger dollar, which inhibits exports, and a strike that snarled west coast ports. How that will play out over the rest of the year is anyone’s guess but the International Monetary Fund predicts that the U.S. Economy will increase by 2.5 percent this year. As recently as April, it predicted growth of 3.1 percent.

So, as usual with the Obama recovery, the jobs report is not bad but not great.

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