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US temp jobs rise in May, gains more than offset by downward revisions; total nonfarm jobs up just 75,000

June 07, 2019

The number of temporary help jobs in the US rose by 5,100 in May, but the number of temp jobs added in the last report was revised downward by 12,700, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly jobs report. 

Still, year-over-year growth in temp jobs ticked up to 1.48% in May from 1.36% in April to 3.045 million jobs, according to today’s data. In addition, the temp penetration rate — temp jobs as a percent of total nonfarm employment — rose to 2.02% in May from 2.01% in April.

“Temporary help services gained 5,100 jobs for the month, though the gain in May is more than offset by downward revisions to March and April,” said Tony Gregoire, director of research for the Americas at Staffing Industry Analysts. “The general flatness in temporary help volume is consistent with the latter stages of an economic expansion.”

Overall, the US added just 75,000 nonfarm jobs in May — lower than the average gain of 151,000 over the last three months. However, the BLS noted total nonfarm employment for both March and April was revised downward, representing 75,000 fewer jobs than previously reported.

“Today’s report is consistent with the growing sentiment among markets and economists that the US economy is slowing down,” said Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board.

“Some of this slowdown is coming from the manufacturing sector, where employment growth has almost come to a halt,” Levanon said. “The slowdown in employment growth could also reflect stronger automation efforts by employers struggling with recruiting and controlling labor cost growth in a tight labor market.”

The Conference Board still expects the US economy to grow through at least the end of the year and labor markets to tighten.

May’s unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from April. The college-level unemployment rate was 2.1%, also unchanged from April.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by six cents to $27.83.

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