US employers pulled back on hiring in May by adding only 138,000 jobs, though hiring was still enough to help keep pushing unemployment lower. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 4.3% from 4.4%, reports the AP. That's the lowest level since May 2001, reports the Wall Street Journal, though it points out that the labor force actually shrank last month with 62.7% participation, down from 62.9% in April. That’s one of the lowest levels since the 1970s.
Hiring in the months of April and March were revised downward by a combined 66,000. Job gains have averaged 121,000 over the past three months, a deceleration from an average of 181,000 over the past 12 months. Average hourly earnings have risen a middling 2.5% over the past year. Restaurants and health care firms posted solid job gains. Food services added 30,300 workers, while health care contributed 24,300 jobs. Construction added 11,000 jobs, while manufacturers, retailers, and governments shed workers. (Read more jobs report stories.)