WASHINGTON — Total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment grew by 75,000 jobs in May 2019, less than half the average level so far this year, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6 percent, according to the June 7 report.
The only employment sectors that showed strong gains in May were professional and business services (up 33,000 jobs) and health care (up 16,000 jobs).
Construction gained only 4,000 jobs in May, and manufacturing only 3,000, according to the report. Mining, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information and financial activities also saw little change during the month, it said.
Payroll services firm ADP Inc. showed even slower job growth in its monthly employment report, with many sectors showing steep declines.
Private sector employment increased only 27,000 jobs in May, according to the ADP National Employment Report released June 5.
Large businesses (500 employees or more) had a strong showing during the month, with 68,000 new jobs, according to ADP.
But medium-sized businesses (50 to 499 employees) added only 11,000 new jobs, while small businesses (one to 49 employees) lost 52,000, the report said. The decrease was especially sharp in very small businesses — one to 19 employees — which fell by 50,000 jobs.
Goods-producing industries lost 43,000 jobs, including 36,000 in construction and 3,000 in manufacturing, ADP said.
Among franchise employers, there was a drop of 4,800 jobs, with 1,900 lost in the auto parts and dealers segment, it said.
Growth in manufacturing employment has been weak the last two months, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) noted.
"Economic expansions don't last forever, but there are policy interventions that can boost demand and support new factory job creation," AAM President Scott Paul said. "Now would be a good time to get a $2 trillion infrastructure plan back on track, and to secure a meaningful trade deal with China."
On the other hand, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said the members it polled for the May NFIB monthly jobs report remain bullish on hiring.
"America's small businesses are continuing their hiring spree, with a net addition of 0.32 workers per firm," NFIB said June 6.
The only problem for small employers, the NFIB added, is finding qualified applicants for the positions that come open.
According to the May report, 25% of all business owners said finding qualified workers was their single most important problem, and 54% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
"Across the nation, small businesses need qualified workers more than ever to keep the economy strong," NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan said.