Headed into this morning, many projected U.S. job growth of about 158,000 in May. Unfortunately, the actual number was much, much worse.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added a woeful 38,000 jobs in May, the worst monthly total since September 2010, nearly six years ago. The overall unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, though that’s cold comfort given the number of jobs created.
As for the revisions: March job totals were revised down, from 208,000 to 186,000, while April’s totals were also revised down, from 160,000 to 123,000. Combined, that’s a loss of 59,000.
Let’s go ahead and state the obvious: this isn’t good. In fact, it’s one of the worst jobs reports – if not the worst – since the end of the Great Recession. But let’s also make clear that there’s no reason to panic. May’s job totals will be revised twice more; the impact of the Verizon strike matters; and in recent years, we’ve seen other sharp drops in job totals, only to have the employment market bounce back.
Still, a report this bad is cause for concern, and the anxiety is compounded by the fact that should the economy need a jolt, the Republican-led Congress won’t give it one.
Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.