June 2 (UPI) — The U.S. economy produced 138,000 new jobs in May, the 80th consecutive month of job growth, Department of Labor data released Friday show.
The figure was lower than expected after a vigorous April report, but the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits continues to remain near a 43-month low. The May unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent, from 4.4 percent in April and from 4.7 percent in May 2016, with 6.9 million Americans unemployed in May.
Notable improvements came in the healthcare industry, with 24,000 jobs added in May; the mining industry added 7,000, food services improved by 30,000, professional and business services added 38,000 positions.
Participation in the labor force declined by 0.2 percent to 62.7 percent. Average hourly earnings for those on non-farm payrolls rose 4 cents to $26.22.
The May figures indicate the U.S. economy remains strong, and suggest a likely increase in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate, later in June.