WASHINGTON – U.S. secretary of labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about the May 2016 Employment Situation report released today:
“In May, the economy added 38,000 jobs. Despite job growth below expectations, the nation continues to recover from the Great Recession, with 75 consecutive months of uninterrupted private-sector job growth to the tune of 14.5 million jobs. The national unemployment rate in May inched downward to 4.7 percent.
“At this point in a recovery, we expect to see trade-offs between job growth and strong wage growth. Earnings growth in May was encouraging. So far this year, average hourly earnings for private employees have increased 3.2 percent at an annual rate.
“Job growth this month was also dampened by a temporary strike in the telecommunications industry, with more than 35,000 Verizon workers on strike in May. They are back on the job as of June 1, thanks to the hard work and cooperative spirit between Verizon and the unions. During their 13 days of negotiations at the U.S. Department of Labor, I witnessed firsthand their good-faith commitment to resolving difficult issues. The agreement they reached makes the company, its workers, its customers and its shareholders better off.
“Other measures confirm that the labor market continues to improve. Job openings are nearly as high as they have ever been – 5.8 million as of the end of March. Initial claims for unemployment benefits have remained under 300,000 (less than half of early 2009 levels) for 65 consecutive weeks, a sustained low that we haven’t experienced since December, 1973. Even with today’s report, we have averaged 150,000 jobs added each month so far in 2016, well above the pace we need to sustain a low unemployment rate.
“But we still have more to do. So many families are still struggling to get by. We need to raise the federal minimum wage to put more money in people’s pockets. We need to enact paid-leave policies so that more people have the supports they need to work and take care of their families. And, we need to invest more in infrastructure spending.
“For more than six years, we have been pulling ourselves out of a significant ditch. The worst economic crisis of our lifetimes has given way to a dynamic recovery, helping millions of people get back to work and back on their feet. But we’re not done. In the remaining months of this administration, we will do everything we can, every day, to build on this progress and complete the unfinished business.”