Today's May Jobs Report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that America's unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 9.1 percent. Surprisingly, only 54,000 total nonfarm jobs were added that month; some data predicted that number would be much higher, at about 165,000. Bottom line: U.S. employers in May added the fewest number of workers in eight months.
"These are pretty bleak numbers," said Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York (source: Bloomberg News). "Some of the engines of hiring just went away. Combined with the slowdown in consumer spending, it raises concern that the slowing in hiring could be with us for a while."
In a statement released today, Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), seemed to indicate the Federal government-not free market forces-should continue to act as the primary tool to shore up the economy.
"While we can't wave a wand and magically bring down the unemployment rate, policymakers can and must continue to invest in innovation, education and our nation's infrastructure," said Casey. "Congress also needs to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance to help workers who have seen their jobs move overseas build the skills they need to find new, good-paying jobs."
The recent slowing in manufacturing growth, continuing problems in the housing market and surging gasoline prices took some momentum away from the recovery in May, continued Casey. "We've made progress in the past year and a half, but we still have a long way to go to regain the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Washington cannot lose its focus on job creation."
However, the $830 billion Recovery Act which President Obama signed into law in 2009 has yet to meet initial expectations from many U.S. business leaders and rank-and-file citizens alike. As a result, the idea of "fixing" the economy with yet more government spending is not widely popular on The Hill or across America.