Job Market Loses Steam in May

By Toni Vranjes

June 3, 2011

The job market turned in a disappointing performance last month, notching only a slight gain of 54,000 jobs.

The results fell way short of expectations. Economists had predicted that employment for May would increase by 160,000. Meanwhile, the jobless rate rose slightly, from 9 percent to 9.1 percent.

Employment growth occurred in professional and business services, health care, and mining. However, struggling local governments cut a total of 28,000 jobs. Declines also occurred in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.

Finding a job is a battle for millions of Americans — and for some of them, the battle lasts a very long time. The report shows that 13.9 million people are unemployed. About 6.2 million fall into the ranks of the “long-term unemployed,” which refers to those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer.

Adding to the bad news: payroll employment for March and April were revised downward.

The Obama Administration stressed that it’s working tirelessly to promote strong job growth.

“There are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years,” Austan Goolsbee, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a blog post.

“The initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – have contributed to solid employment growth overall this year, but this report is a reminder of the challenges that remain,” he added. “We are focused on promoting exports, reducing regulatory burdens and making the investments in education, research and development, and infrastructure that will grow our economy and create jobs.  We will continue to work with Congress to responsibly reduce the deficit and live within our means.”

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