WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Employment rose far less than expected in May to record its weakest reading since September, while the jobless rate rose to 9.1 percent as high energy prices and the effects of Japan’s earthquake bogged down the economy.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 54,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, with private employment rising 83,000, the least amount since June. Government payrolls dropped 29,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected payrolls to rise 150,000 and private hiring to increase 175,000 in May. The government revised employment figures for March and April to show 39,000 fewer jobs created than previously estimated.
The job creation slowdown confirmed the economic weakness already flagged by other data from consumer spending to manufacturing. It could stoke fears about the depth and duration of a slowdown that started early in the year.