The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

June 7, 2013

National unemployment rate back up to 7.6 percent

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. economy is adding jobs at a steady pace — enough to show strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts if not enough to reduce still-high unemployment.

Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters found jobs.

The government revised the job figures for the previous two months. April’s gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000. March’s was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000. The net loss was 12,000 jobs.

Investors appeared pleased by the evidence that job growth remains steady. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 200 points in late-morning trading.

Friday’s job figures provided further evidence of the U.S. economy’s resilience. The housing market is strengthening, auto sales are up and consumer confidence has reached a five-year peak. Stock prices are near record highs, and the budget deficit has shrunk.

The U.S. economy’s relative strength contrasts with Europe, which is gripped by recession, and Asia, where once-explosive economies are now struggling.

Many analysts expect the U.S. economy to strengthen later this year.

“Today’s report has to be encouraging for growth in the second half of the year,” said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG LLC.

It also eased worries that had arisen after economic reports earlier this week had suggested that the economy might be weakening.

Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs the past three months. But the May gain almost exactly matched the average increase of the previous 12 months: 172,000.

Analysts said the less-than-robust job growth would likely lead the Federal Reserve to maintain the pace of its monthly bond purchases for at least a few more months. The Fed has said it will keep buying bonds at the same rate until the job market improves substantially. The bond purchases have helped drive down interest rates and boost stock prices.

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