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US non-farm payrolls rose in May at the slowest pace in one year

US non-farm payrolls rose in May at the slowest pace in one year

4.6.2012 10:03

Non-farm payrolls rose last month only by 69 000, while the consensus was looking for an increase by 150 000. On top of it, also the previous figure was sharply downwardly revised from 115 000 to 77 000 and the March outcome was adjusted from 154 000 to 143 000. All revisions taken into account, the payrolls were 130 000 (!!) below consensus, which is a very disappointing outcome. A look at the details provides little more comfort. Private payrolls rose by 82 000, down from 87 000 in April, while government payrolls dropped by 13 000 (from -10 000 in April). In the goods-producing sectors, payrolls fell by 15 000, after a limited 4 000 increase in April. Weakness was mainly based in the construction sector, where employment dropped for a fourth consecutive month, but the pace of decline picked up (-28 000 from -5 000). In the services sector, payrolls rose by 97 000 (up from 83 000 in April), due to a strong performance of trade & transport (54 000 from 21 000) and education & health (46 000 from 29 000). Employment grew also slightly in the financial sector (by 3 000). The information (- 1 000), leisure & hospitality (-9 000) sector cut the number of jobs and employment dropped also in business services. Temporary help, which is often seen as a leading indicator for the overall payrolls, rose slightly (by 9 000 from 13 000 in April). The household survey showed a more mixed picture. For the first time in one year, the unemployment rate picked up again. The unemployment rate rose from 8.1% to 8.2%, while a stabilization was expected. The increase in the unemployment rate was due to an increase in the number of people unemployed (by 220 000 to a total of 12.72 million). But also the civilian labour force grew in May, by 642 000 to a total level of 155.007 million. As a result, employment rose too, from 141.865 million to 142.287 million. Average weekly hours worked dropped from 34.5 to 34.4 and aggregate hours worked fell from 95.9 to 95.7. Earnings growth remains disappointingly slow, as the annual rate of growth slowed from 1.8% Y/Y to 1.7% Y/Y. It is a very disappointing report, both in the headline figure and the details, which confirms that strong data of late last year and early this year were unsustainable and boosted by unusually warm weather. There is still some weather-rated payback in the May data, but overall the payrolls suggest that also the US economy is losing momentum, probably due to the crisis in Europe and slowing growth in Asia.

After reaching a ten-month high in April, the US manufacturing ISM weakened significantly in May, providing further evidence that now also the US economy is losing some steam. The headline index dropped from 54.8 to 53.5, slightly below the consensus estimate. Overall the details were not so bad as new orders even picked up and also the employment index remained strong. Compared to the regional business confidence indicators, the US manufacturing ISM is holding up surprisingly well, but we doubt whether this is sustainable in the coming months.

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