Average hourly earnings, a closely-watched metric, rose 0.2% during the month, as expected, putting year-over-year wage gains at 2.5%. Yet the decline stemmed more from people leaving the labor force than an increase in the number who found jobs.
Elise Gould of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute said a June rate increase by the Fed would be "unfortunate", adding that prematurely declaring full employment would be far more costly than tolerating some wage growth and price inflation.
"A hike in June is still on the table but the news flow will have to improve for the Fed to keep tightening in the second part of the year", said Thomas Julien, U.S. economist, at Natixis North America in NY. Job gains for March and April were also revised down, showing 66,000 fewer jobs were added than first estimated.
As a result, the spread between the jobless rate and this broad unemployment gauge, considered a better measure of labor market slack, was the smallest since early 2008. For workers who aren't supervisors, average hourly pay has risen just 2.3 percent.
Other economists suggest that meaningful pay gains tend to occur after a lag and that the low 4.3 percent unemployment rate will lead to higher wages over the next 12 to 18 months.
White House Communications Director Resigns
Spicer discussed ongoing possible connections to Jared Kushner and Russians, the president's global trip, and other topics. He offered to stay on to help manage communications in Washington during Trump's foreign trip, and the president accepted.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimates that monthly job growth above 80,000 or so should cause the unemployment rate to fall.
One calendar quirk that may have depressed wage gains in May was that the 15th of the month - when workers who are paid semi-monthly get their checks - fell on the Monday after the survey week, which includes the 12th.
This wobble might not be serious enough to stop the Fed hiking interest rates this month, but the USA economy certainly doesn't appear as strong as record-high stock markets and other indicators would lead you to believe.
Construction added 11,000 jobs in May, with 7,200 of them in heavy and civl engineering, and 5,500 in building construction.
"I wouldn't worry too much about monthly payrolls", Jim O'Sullivan, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, said before the report. The current expansion has lasted 96 months and is now the third longest since World War Two. Trump said the deal would have been bad for American workers. Some economists pointed out that the retirement of baby boomers would continue to press down labor-force participation. "If the participation rate just stabilizes from here for a time, then job growth consistent with a stable unemployment rate is only about 100,000 a month", he said. Over the past 12 months, job additions have averaged 188,000 per month. "The working-age population is growing too slowly to support that". But job growth in May was down across many key sectors.