The U.S. economy created only 75,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists had expected the pace of job creation to moderate to 180,000 after April’s extremely hot initial report of 263,000. The unemployment rate was expected to rise to 3.7 percent.
The estimate for jobs created in March was revised down to 153,000 from the previously reported 189,000. April was revised down to 224,000.
After revisions, the economy has added 151,000 over the past three months. For the entire year, payroll gains have averaged 164,000, a much slower rate than 2018’s 223,000.
Wages gains slightly lagged forecasts. Average hourly earnings were up 3.1 percent compared with a year ago, just below the 3.2 percent expected, and 0.2 percent compared with April. The average work week held steady at 34.4 hours.
Unemployment is at the lowest rate since December 1969. The rate for African Americans declined sharply to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent.
The lower than expected figure for job creation, however, is likely to intensify expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut its interest rate target sooner rather than later.
Professional and business services was the strongest category for the month, adding 33,000 positions. Health care grew by 16,000. Construction added 4,000. Manufacturing and mining added 3,000.
Retail shrank by 15,000. There was no noticeable bump from Census jobs, which many economists had expected to show up in May’s numbers.