May report shows 339,000 jobs added, rising unemployment 

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations and evidence of strength in the economy, the Associated Press reports.

Today’s report from the government also showed that the unemployment rate rose to 3.7% from a five-decade low of 3.4% in April.

The stronger hiring demonstrates the job market’s resilience after more than a year of rapid interest rate increases by the Fed. Many industries, from construction to restaurants to health care, are still adding jobs to keep up with consumer demand and restore their workforces to pre-pandemic levels.

Having imposed 10 straight rate hikes since March 2022, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to skip a rate increase when it meets later this month, though it may resume its hikes after that.

The Fed regards strong hiring as likely to keep inflation persistently high because employers tend to sharply raise pay in a tight job market. Many of these companies then pass on their higher wage costs to customers in the form of higher prices.

The May jobs report adds to other recent evidence that the economy is still managing to chug ahead despite long-standing predictions that a recession was near. Some cracks in the economy’s foundations, though, have begun to emerge.

Home sales have tumbled, and a measure of factory activity indicated that it has contracted for seven straight months.