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June 06, 2014 9:29 AM May Jobs Report: Plodding Along Steadily

By Ed Kilgore

The May Jobs Report is out today, and it was about as close to consensus expectations as you can get (217,000 net new jobs, as compared to estimates of 215,000), and there were no disturbing internals about shrinking workforce participation. The number most Americans pay attention to, the official unemployment rate, was unchanged.

Coming on the heels of a strong report in April, though, the economic picture continues to slowly lighten, as indicated by this assessment from Business Insider:

Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth says those who attributed Q1 economic weakness to the U.S.’ harsh winter have won the argument. “The robust 217,000 increase in non-far payrolls in May is another illustration that the economy is back on the right track after the weather-related weakness during the winter,” he writes. “May’s gain followed an even stronger 282,000 increase in April, although we suspect that the latter was boosted a little by the unwinding of the earlier weather distortion.”
BTIG’s Dan Greenhaus observed (via Kelly Evans) that this is the first time we’ve had four-straight months of 200,o00 jobs growth since 1999. “It didn’t happen once during hte last expansion, when average job growth was “just” 184,000.”

Brother Benen probably has the most appropriate overall sober judgment:

Overall, this is a report that suggests the jobs landscape is … holding steady. At least after one read-through, there’s nothing that stands out as either great or horrible. The economy continues to plod along steadily.
All told, over the last 12 months, the U.S. economy has added over 2.38 million jobs overall and 2.36 million in the private sector. What’s more, May was the 51st consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth. The year isn’t quite half over, but 2014 is currently on track to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 1999.

But then there’s this, from the report itself:

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.4 million in May. These individuals accounted for 34.6 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 979,000.

When’s the last time you heard any talking head on TV discussing the stalled effort (by House Republicans) to restore extended unemployment benefits? It’s probably been a while.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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