May’s employment data, released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), held plenty of good news despite a hiring rate slower than April’s. Last month’s report showed a staggering gain of 288,000 (later revised to 282,000), which dropped to 217,000 in May, according to The New York Times. That figure is still above the six-month average gains of 200,000. The growth reported by the BLS also exceeded ADP’s earlier estimation of 179,000. Most other economists predicted between 215,000 and 220,000 new positions.

Reuters reported that after May, the 8.7 million positions lost during the recession have finally been recovered.?? While this is positive news, the source added that the working age population has risen 10.6 million since then, and 12.8 million people have left the labor force. Employment hit its lowest point in early 2010, making the four-year climb back to normal levels the longest recovery the Department of Labor has ever tracked, CNN reported earlier this week. The economy actually did slightly better than breaking even, adding 8.8 million jobs since that time.

Unemployment showed no change from April, remaining at 6.3 percent. Claims did rise slightly, by 8,000, in the last week. However, the month’s average came in at 310,250. Still, that represents the lowest unemployment rate since readings from June 2007.

Professional and business services saw the biggest growth this month. The industry gained 55,000 jobs, the same as its average gains over the last 12 months. Employment in computer systems and technical consulting increased by 7,000 in May and in temporary help services by 14,000.

That number is matched by the total gain in health care and social assistance. Health care added 34,000 of those jobs, which is twice the industry’s average for the year. Ambulatory services, such as doctor’s offices and outpatient services, made up most of the growth, gaining 21,000. Hospital employment rose by 7,000. Social assistance fared even better compared to its 12-month average of 7,000 new jobs per month, adding 21,000 in May.

Employment in the energy industry and related fields was relatively unchanged. Mining gained 2,100 employees in May. Most of those positions were in oil and gas, which added 1,600 jobs. The slow growth is partially attributed to falling employment in coal mining, which lost around 300 workers over the month.

All in all, the May employment numbers showed continued growth on the U.S. job front, despite a larger workforce population and an unchanged participation rate.?? According to Reuters, economists expect more previously discouraged workers to re-enter the labor force over the course of the year.

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