- The U.S. gained an estimated 75,000 nonfarm jobs in May, far below April's revised gain of 224,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report.
- The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%, the lowest in 50 years, according to the New York Times. The number of unemployed people, 5.9 million, remained nearly the same as April's total. The unemployment rates by demographic also were relatively unchanged across all worker groups: adult men (3.3%), adult women (3.2%), teenagers (12.7%), white people (3.3%), black people (6.2%), Asian people (2.5%) and Hispanic people (4.2%), BLS said.
- Industry-based job growth was moderate, with the most gains in professional and business services (33,000) and healthcare (16,000).
While April brought more robust job gains, May's comparatively modest numbers could signal a possible slowdown in the economy, perhaps aggravated by President Trump's proposed tariffs on China and Mexico, the New York Times reported. However, some sectors remain optimistic about the economy and job prospects. Bob Lopes, president of Randstad Sourceright in North America, offered employers advice on hiring strategies amid the unpredictability of the proposed tariffs in an email to HR Dive.
"While some industries slowed their rate of hiring in May due to uncertainty over international tariffs, or an inability to find qualified workers, other sectors such as high-tech and life sciences continued to experience healthy job growth," he said. "Employers that may be hesitant to hire full-time workers have maintained, and even increased, revenue by onboarding temporary workers. Incorporating part-time or contract workers can help businesses endure market fluctuations and remain more agile as business needs change."
Employers should keep in mind that monthly job reports are estimates that often are revised and provide a snapshot of short-term job activity. However, they might use these snapshots to inform short-term hiring strategies, as Lopes suggested. An economic depression could bring new challenges, but employers are now accustomed to coping with low unemployment.
Experts have noted that one strategy for weathering the talent drought is to expand the definition of a qualified candidate. "While we've seen a slowdown in hiring, prospects remain positive for job seekers, regardless of someone's resume or background: 59% of employers are willing to hire candidates who may not be fully qualified, with plans to train them on the job, and a growing number of hiring managers are no longer looking at college degrees as indicators of whether or not to hire a candidate," CareerBuilder said in a press statement regarding May's numbers.