Economy Watch: Job Growth Tepid in May

The U.S. economy saw below-average job growth for the month, adding only 138,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. However, segments of the economy that affect commercial space absorption still had reasonably good job creation.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. economy, which has been creating an average of 181,000 jobs per month over the last 12 months, saw an increase of 138,000 in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Also, job growth in March and April combined were 66,000 less than previously reported, after the Bureau revised its figures.

Even so, some segments of the economy that affect commercial space absorption still did reasonably well in terms of job creation. In May, employment in professional and business services, which impacts the office market, continued to trend up (gaining 38,000). The sector has added an average of 46,000 jobs per month thus far this year, in line with the average monthly job gain in 2016.

Employment in health care rose by 24,000 in May. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the month, and employment in ambulatory health care services— some of which occupies former retail space—continued to trend up (gaining 13,000). Job growth in health care has averaged 22,000 per month thus far in 2017, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.

The headline U.S. unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in April, the BLS reported. The bureau’s more expansive unemployment rate, the U-6, came in at 8.4 percent, compared with 8.6 percent in April. It includes unemployed workers under the standard definition, plus everyone only marginally attached to the labor force (such as discouraged workers) and people who work part time but want full-time work.