The Labor Department released the May jobs report on Friday morning, June 5, 2015 showing conflicting news about the state of the economy. Employers added 280,000 jobs to their rolls, but the unemployment rate inched up to 5.5 percent up from 5.4 percent in April.
The breakdown of the job hires indicates businesses added 262,000 jobs, while governments at all levels added 18,000 jobs. The job losses come from oil companies, who are laying off people because of falling oil prices. Additionally, 18,000 jobs were lost from the mining and logging industry.
The job loses in those industries led to an increased unemployment rate of 5.5 percent with 8.7 million Americans, who are actively in the job market out of work. The numbers are stagnant, barely changing since February. There are 103,000 newly unemployed for the month. Another reason for the increased unemployment numbers is the more Americans, 397,000 joining the labor force, because of the improved job prospects.
The problems remains America’s long-term unemployed for more than 27 weeks still cannot catch a break; their numbers remain high at 2.5 million or 28.6 percent of the unemployed. In the past year, their numbers have decreased by 849,000. The very short-term unemployed are faring the best; those unemployed for less than five weeks decreased, with 311,000 less unemployed, down to 2.4 million.
The economy has been sluggish, with it shrinking 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015. With only 119,000 jobs added in March and 221,000 added in April. Economists believe the economy will rebound further and that this year there will be a 3 percent growth. With the good news comes bad, the Federal Reserve is on track to raise interest rates in September.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released on June 3, 2015 showed that the economy problems are translating into a low approval ratings for President Barack Obama. The poll numbers fell to 45 of Americans percent approving of his job performance and 49 percent disapproving.
While 73 percent of Americans are still worried about the economy, and among those people that are concerned only 35 percent give the president a thumbs up. As ABC News noted, “When it comes to presidential approval, hell hath no fury like economic discontent, and the economy’s gains haven’t been enough to calm fears on that front.”
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers made a statement about President Obama working to improve the economy. Furman wrote, “The president is committed to extending the positive underlying trends through a comprehensive agenda to boost employment and wages for the middle class, including opening new markets for U.S. goods and services through expanded trade, increasing investments in infrastructure, providing relief from the sequester and raising the minimum wage.”
Meanwhile House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) agrees that this is “a good report.” Ryan explained in a statement what still needs to be done to help the economy grow further, “We know that to have a healthy economy, American workers need to be competing on a more level playing field. That means we need to tear down barriers to American exports, fix our broken tax code and remove obstacles to hiring like Obamacare.” Ryan is working towards the passage of the trade promotion authority bill, to fast track trade agreements, the House will vote on the Senate passed bill later this month.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MAY 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 5, 2015
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian, Israeli and international news, anything from crime to human interest stories and everything in between.