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US adds 280,000 jobs

Andreas Klinke Johanssen

  1. The US economy added 280,000 jobs in May, with the unemployment rate rising slightly to 5.5 percent on higher labor force participation.
  2. That's high relative to the 226,000 expected by economists in a survey by Bloomberg.
  3. Revisions to the earlier data for April and March added an additional 32,000 jobs
  4. All in all, the report paints a picture of an economy that continues on a steady path of recovery, albeit not a spectacular one.
  5. Average hourly wages rose 0.3 percent, a bit ahead of expectations of 0.2 percent growth.

The subtle good news beneath the good headlines

The basic news in this report — people getting jobs — is good. But it also contains new internal numbers that, in combination, spell a deeper and more fundamental kind of good news. That's that wage growth picked up and the size of the labor force expanded.

Wage growth, you see, is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's good for people to earn more money. On the other hand, it can be a sign that the economy is running out of room to grow.

But given how long the US labor market has been depressed, one would hope that's not the case. The hope would be that higher wages would tempt people who've dropped out of the labor force to dive back in and start redoubling their efforts to find work. That would mean the economy has plenty of room for future growth. And that's what we appear to see in this June report.