The U.S. Department of Labor released its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate reports Friday showing 175,000 jobs were added in May, which surpassed expectations of 164,000 new jobs and April's reading of 149,000 jobs added. The jobs added in May were largely from the private sector.
However, the national unemployment rate for May was 7.60 percent, one-tenth of a percent higher than expectations and the April reading of 7.50 percent. The rise was attributed to more people entering the workforce as opposed to people losing jobs.
420,000 workers joined the workforce in May, which pushed the civilian participation rate in the labor market to 63.4 percent; the highest participation rate since October 2012. A rising participation rate suggests that more workers believe they can find jobs and have joined or returned to the labor market.
Economists Pleased With Increasing Jobs In Difficult Environment
Economists were pleased to see jobs increasing against an environment of higher taxes, a soft global economy and budget cutbacks in the U.S. government.
A lingering issue for U.S. labor markets is the number of people looking for full time work, but who are unable to find full-time employment. When these workers are added to the ranks of the unemployed who are actively seeking work, the actual unemployment rate almost doubles to 13.8 percent for May.
The national unemployment rate is based on workers who are actively seeking work. Many U.S. workers stopped looking for work after years of unemployment.
Fed May Review Quantitative Easing Program Soon
These reports don't provide a clear indication of what the Federal Reserve may do regarding its current monetary policy; the Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion a month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This effort is intended to keep long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, lower.
The Fed has indicated that it will review its quantitative easing (QE) policy relative to improvements in the economy. In recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has discussed lowering or eliminating its QE efforts, but so far is maintaining its current level of QE and maintaining the federal funds rate at 0.250 percent.
While housing markets are improving, the jobs sector is moving at a slower pace. This suggests that home prices could rise even faster if more consumers had sufficient income for buying a home.