US employers stepped up hiring in May in a sign the world’s largest economy is growing though modestly.
A total of 175,000 jobs were added last month, and that was despite higher taxes, government spending cuts and a weak global economy.
However, after a winter in which the US economy seemed to be turning a corner, May was the third straight month that payrolls outside the farm sector increased by less than 200,000.
The unemployment rate actually rose from 7.5 to 7.6 percent of the workforce, but economists said that was a relatively hopeful sign as the increase came from more people looking for work.
The share of the population in the labour force – which includes people who are either employed or looking for work – rose to 63.4 percent,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 labour force, either because they retired, went back to school or gave up looking for a job.
Still the growth was not as strong as the Federal Reserve would like to see and not yet enough for the central bank to scale back the amount of cash it is pumping into the economy.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s current policy is to buy bonds in order to lower long term interest rates with the specific aim of boosting employment.
Many economists do not expect the job market to be strong enough for the Fed to begin scaling back its stimulus measures before December.