Unemployment Just Fell for all the Wrong Reasons

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

The economy added 138,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.3 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs added was less than the 185,000 analysts had expected.

The unemployment rate is now at a 16-year low, but it appears to have fallen for mostly negative reasons last month. Both the share of workers either employed or actively seeking work and the share of people working out of all those of prime working age both dropped. 608,000 people dropped out of the labor force between April and May.

The past two months of job growth were also lower than originally reported, with March revised down to just 50,000 jobs added and April down to 174,000.

The share of unemployed people fell by 195,000 in May, bringing the total reduction since the start of this year to 774,000. The unemployment rate has fallen by a 0.5 percentage point since then. But as May’s numbers show, not all of them are finding jobs; some are giving up on their search.

Job gains in May were driven by a 24,000 increase in health care, a 38,000 increase in professional and business services, and a 30,000 increase in food and bars. Mining — and industry President Trump has specifically said he would help revive — added 6,600 jobs last month and has risen by 47,000 since a low point last October, but most of the jobs have been in support activities, not direct mining itself. Construction added 11,000 jobs in May, while manufacturing lost 1,000.

Retail continued its recent streak of losing jobs, declining by 6,100. It’s now lost jobs for five months straight.

Wages rose by 4 cents in May, bringing the annual growth rate to 2.5 percent. Wage growth has been basically flat since the recession despite the economy continuing to add jobs.


This was reposted from Think Progress.

Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media. Follow her on Twitter @brycecovert

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.


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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work