This morning’s jobs reports showed 175,000 jobs were added in May. This rate of growth is right in line with the average growth rate of the last year and is a perfect example of the ongoing slog in the labor market. At this pace, it will take more than six years to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate. Given our deficit of 8.5 million jobs, we need more than 300,000 jobs per month to get to full employment by May 2016, three years from now and six months before the next presidential election. At the job growth rate of the last year, we will still have a deficit of 4.6 million jobs in May 2016.
The unemployment rate held roughly steady (ticking up to 7.6 percent) and the labor force participation rate ticked up to 63.4 percent, just one tenth of a percentage point above its low of the downturn. This uptick shouldn’t be interpreted as an indication that job opportunities have improved enough to start consistently drawing missing workers into the labor force.