US Unemployment Rate Drops, Employment Slowly Rises

June 2, 2006 ( - The US unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low of 4.6% in May, according to Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, and non-farm employment only increased by 75,000.

May’s employment gain was far less than expected and was the weakest gain since October 2005, which was heavily affected by the Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, Reuters reported. Employment has been gaining slowly over the past three months, and economists expected a stronger gain. Market economists had expected a gain of about 175,000 jobs. May’s drop in unemployment was unexpected.

Some service-providing industries and mining experienced an upward trend in employment, with the private service-providing industry increasing by 100 workers and mining increasing by 4,100 workers, according to the report. But the retail trade decreased by 27,100 workers, and manufacturing lost 100 jobs. The unemployment number stayed at 7 million.

Wall Street had feared inflation, but this report may soothe those fears, Reuters reported. Though some financial markets had predicted the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates, the Fed may not raise them because of May’s results.

As of May, there were about 144 million people employed, according to BLS data, and employment has increased by 2.4 million overall this year.

The BLS data is  here .