Tags: hiring | jobs | economy | federal reserve

'Too Slow' Pace of Hiring Points to Economy Still in Need of Fed's Help

Friday, 07 June 2013 08:35 AM

Employers stepped up hiring a bit in May in a show of economic resilience that suggests the Federal Reserve could begin to scale back its monetary stimulus later this year.

The United States added 175,000 jobs last month after adding only 149,000 in April, the Labor Department said on Friday. The May job growth figure was just above the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. The unemployment rate ticked a tenth of a percentage point higher to 7.6 percent, but the rise was driven by more workers entering the labor force, a relatively hopeful sign.

"It's progress that's too slow, but it's progress nonetheless," said Guy Berger, an economist at RBS.

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Some economists said the data supported the view the Fed might be able to trim its bond purchases as soon as September; others think the Fed might not make a move until next year.

"The acceleration in jobs growth points to further improvement in domestic growth momentum," said Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. research and strategy at TD Securities in New York.

Still, it was the third straight month that payrolls outside the farm sector increased by less than 200,000.

"It's not great, but it's good. It leaves the tapering talk still on the table," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG in New York.

U.S. stock markets opened higher on the report, while the dollar firmed. Yields on U.S. government bonds rose modestly on the view the Fed, which next meets on June 18-19, could begin dialing back bond buys this year.

Officials at the U.S. central bank have intimated they could be close to reducing bond purchases despite modest economic growth, which is not expected to pick up until late in the year when the sting from government spending cuts begins to fade.

Budget cuts have led to hiring freezes at many government agencies, and attrition could be slowly reducing payrolls. Government payrolls declined by 3,000 in May.

After expanding at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, many analysts expect the economy to throttle back to a growth pace of just around 1.5 percent in the second quarter given Washington's austerity drive.


About 4.4 million Americans have been unemployed for more than six months, roughly 3 million more than pre-recession levels. The longer workers are out of a job, the greater the risk they become essentially unemployable. That could deal lasting damage to the economy and has lent urgency to the Fed's efforts to stimulate growth.

Still, May's pace of job growth is right around the average for the prior 12 months. Over that period, the jobless rate fell about half a percentage point and the ranks of the long-term unemployed declined by about 1 million people.

"From a worker point of view, of course, you'd like to see a more robust recovery," said Rick Meckler, President of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Even the increase in the unemployment rate had a bright side. The share of the population in the labor force — which includes people who are either employed or looking for work — rose to 63.4 percent. That was driven by 420,000 workers entering the work force. That is good news because some of the recent drop in the jobless rate has been due to workers leaving the labor force, either because they retired, went back to school or gave up looking for a job.

The poll of households from which the jobless rate is derived showed even stronger growth than the payroll survey of employers, and total hours worked in the economy ticked higher.

At the same time, U.S. factories are feeling the pinch from Europe's debt crisis, which has sent a chill over the global economy. Manufacturing employment declined by 8,000 jobs last month.

The biggest job gains were in professional and business services, with temporary jobs up 26,000 in a potential sign employers could expand their full-time staffs. The leisure and hospitality industry also showed strength, as did the retail sector.

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U.S. employers stepped up hiring in May, a sign the economy was growing modestly but not strong enough to convince the Federal Reserve to scale back the amount of cash it is pumping into the banking system.
hiring,jobs,economy,federal reserve
Friday, 07 June 2013 08:35 AM
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