US economy adds far fewer jobs than expected in May

  • The official employment report out Friday showed that hiring slowed sharply last month and that wage growth cooled.
  • The latest employment report could add to concerns that the expansion could be running out of steam.
  • On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report out showed the private sector created the fewest jobs in nine years in May.

In the latest snapshot of the American economy, the official employment report out Friday showed that hiring slowed sharply in May and that wage growth cooled.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics said the US economy added 75,000 nonfarm payrolls in May, compared with economist expectations for an increase of 180,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% in May, the same as the previous month. That brought wage growth from a year earlier to 3.1%, missing economist expectations.

The latest employment report could add to concerns that the expansion is running out of steam. On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report out showed the private sector created the fewest jobs in nine years in May.

Escalating trade tensions have put businesses and investors on edge in recent weeks, with growth in the US and elsewhere already expected to slow over the next year.

President Donald Trump increased tariffs on China last month and threatened to expand them to a broader range of products. He has separately vowed to slap duties on all imports from Mexico, one of the US’s largest trading partners.

“In our estimation the trade wars the United States finds itself ensnared in are going to cause hiring to slow as business sentiment eases, productivity-enhancing capital expenditures fall off, and the damage eventually spills over into the consumer sector,” said Joseph Brusuelas, the chief economist at RSM.

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