U.S. employers added 390,000 jobs in May according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly report.
The unemployment rate stayed at 3.6%, slightly higher than the half-century low recorded in February 2020 before the pandemic hit.
According to analysts the job growth in May represents a robust but slower pace of hiring.
While the number of jobs added was down from the revised total of 436,000 in April, it was better than the 325,000 jobs expected by economists surveyed by Reuters.
The labor market is being closely watched as high inflation raises fears of a future downturn. The Federal Reserve’s process of raising interest rates to try to tame inflation is also causing some businesses to pull back on expansion plans.
The biggest job gains in May came in the leisure and hospitality sector with 84,000 new positions in anticipation of a strong summer travel season.
The job gains were widespread in several industries, but not in the retail sector. The nation’s largest employer reported a loss of 60,700 jobs, according to the report.
Automakers and parts suppliers also lost 3,500 jobs as plants had to shut down or eliminate shifts due to a shortage of components needed to build cars and trucks.