US created 217,000 jobs in May vs 218,000 est; unemployment rate at 6.3% vs 6.4% est

Nonfarm payrolls continued to grow about in line with recent trends, rising 217,000 in May as the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent, according to numbers released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most of the job gains came on lower-paying industries as wages rose modestly, increasing 5 cents an hour to maintain the modest 2.1 percent growth over the past 12 months. Average hours worked came in flat at 34.5.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect 218,000 U.S. jobs were created last month, down from April’s upwardly revised 288,000 addition. The unemployment rate had been expected at 6.4 percent.

A broader measure of joblessness that includes those working part-time for economic reasons and those who have quit looking remained elevated at 12.2 percent, though that was a low for the year and the best “U6” measure since October 2008.

Over the past 12 months, the U.S. economy has averaged 197,000 new jobs per month.

Professional and business services along with health led the way in May, with both sectors creating 55,000 new jobs. Hospitality—primarily bars and restaurants—grew by 32,000.

Manufacturing and construction, by contrast, were about flat. Labor force participation, a key metric that whose sharp decline has played a major role in the falling unemployment rate, remained flat at 62.8 percent, matching the worst level since March 1978.

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