WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – U.S. nonfarm payrolls expanded by a seasonally adjusted 431,000 in May, but virtually all the new jobs were temporary jobs at the U.S. Census, leaving private-sector hiring very weak in May, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Excluding 411,000 temporary Census workers, payrolls rose by 20,000 in May. According to the survey of 400,000 business establishments, private-sector payrolls increased by 41,000, the fifth straight gain.
The report was weaker than the 540,000 increase expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
The payroll count in March and April was revised lower by 22,000. Payrolls rose by 208,000 in March and 290,000 in April.
The unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 9.7% in May from 9.9% in April, according to a separate survey of 60,000 households. Economists were expecting the jobless rate to sink to 9.8%.
The decline wasn’t particularly good news, however, because the drop was due to 322,000 people dropping out of the labor force. While unemployment dropped by 287,000 to 15 million, employment also fell, dipping 35,000 to 139.4 million.
The participation rate dropped by two tenths to 65%.
An alternative measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and those forced to work part-time because of the weak economy, fell to 16.6% from 17.1%.
This is just bad news for the economy — and for the White House.