Weak Jobs Report Rekindles Economy Worries
The jobless rate for U.S. workers, including those over 45, remained unchanged in May, raising concerns about a stagnant economy.
Unemployment for all U.S. workers remained at 9.1 percent last month, according to data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The May unemployment rate for workers over 45 was 6.6 percent, even with April.
Private employers added approximately 83,000 jobs during May, down substantially from 220,000 jobs that U.S. companies added during each of the preceding three months, and well under what economists had predicted. A decline in local government jobs led to a net gain of only 54,000 new positions during the month. The lower-than-anticipated number caused U.S. stocks to plunge Friday and economists to slash growth projections.
Disappointing unemployment numbers followed several reports released earlier in the week expressing concern about the general state of the country's economy. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants quarterly index fell three points to 66 in the second quarter from 69 in the prior period as members became less optimistic about how well Corporate America is working. "While the CPA Outlook Index is still positive relative to the dark days of the recession, our members are concerned about rising energy costs and inflation, health-care costs and continuing weakness in demand," AICPA official Carol Scott said in a statement.
Some economists said the lower-than-expected jobs report and other setbacks are temporary reactions to rising oil prices and supply shortages caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami. "When we look at past recoveries, it is not uncommon to see the pace of change accelerate or decelerate in different phases," J.H. Cohn economic research director Patrick O'Keefe told TheStreet.
Workers 45 and older comprise close to 43 percent of the country's entire work force. Close to one in five U.S. workers are 55 or older, according to a recently report from Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging and Work. Fifteen percent of U.S. workers are 55 to 64, and 4.3 percent are 65 or older, according to the center's analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Another 23.4 percent of U.S. workers are 45 to 54.
Despite the gloomy forecast, some job boards reported seeing slight increases in the number of jobs posted in certain industries during May. Indeed.com reported a 4 percent rise in openings last month, including more opportunities in transportation, manufacturing, hospitality and health care. Real estate listings dropped 3 percent during the month and 11 percent since 2010.
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