Employers in the United States recruited more people than expected in May, and pay rises were relatively high, signals of labor market strength that will keep the Federal Reserve on a tightening monetary policy path to moderate demand.
The survey of establishments showed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 390,000 jobs last month.
The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6% for a third straight month, even as more people entered the labour force.
While May’s job gains were the smallest in a year, they were way above the monthly average that prevailed before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Fed is trying to dampen labor demand to tame inflation, with annual consumer prices increasing at rates last seen 40 years ago.
There were 11.4 million job openings at the end of April, with nearly two positions for every unemployed person.
Average hourly earnings increased 0.3%, matching April’s gain.
That lowered the annual increase to a still-strong 5.2% from 5.5% in April.
Household employment rebounded by 321,000 jobs after declining in April, and about 330,000 people entered the workforce.
The labour force participation rate rose to 62.3%, up from 62.2% a month earlier. At 1.4 million, long-term unemployment was the lowest since 2020, down from 1.5 million in April.
But the number of people working part-time for economic reasons rose by 295,000 to 4.3 million.