U.S. economy adds 217,000 jobs in May, unemployment rate stays steady

By Daniel S Levine,

The U.S. economy remained steady in May, at least when it comes to employment. Although 217,000 jobs were added last month, the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report showed the unemployment rate staying steady at 6.3 percent.

The Labor Department said that the overall number of unemployed people in the U.S. stayed at 9.8 million. However, that number is down 1.2 percent over the year.

Overall, May did see a significant decline from April. That month, the economy added 282,000 jobs (slightly lower than the 288,000 reported in May’s report).

In addition, the number of long-term unemployed stayed nearly unchanged at 3.4 million in May. These are people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more and make up 34.6 percent of those unemployed. Still, the number of long-term unemployed is down 979,000 over the past year.

It is worth noting that the number of people who just lost their job or completed a temporary job slid by 218,000. The number of people who re-entered the workplace ticked up slightly to 237,000 after a decline the previous month.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said that the country is still moving in the “right direction with steady job growth, but we must take steps to help those individuals who are still feeling the lasting effects of the recession.” He also called on Congress to act to raise the federal minimum wage

“States and local jurisdictions have taken it upon themselves to ensure their residents get the long overdue raise that they deserve, and I encourage them to continue to act as long as Congress refuses to do so,” Perez said. “No person who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty.”

Despite Perez’s positive outlook, CBS News notes that the U.S. population has grown 7 percent since the Great Recession. So, while the economy may finally be making up for all those jobs lost at that time, even more jobs need to be created to keep up with the population growth. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 7 million more jobs may be needed just to keep up with that growth.

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