Unemployment stays at 6.3 percent

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Employers added 217,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Reuters reported that the gain was in line with market expectations and that the increase returned U.S. employment to its pre-recession level.

The government revised its job data for April to show that 6,000 fewer jobs were created than previously reported.

"That suggests the first quarter was an anomaly in terms of what the economy was and we are back to a decent pace of job creation. Overall it's a pretty solid report," John Canally, economist at LPL Financial in Boston, told Reuters.

The news service said the job gain was lower than the 282,000 in April, but May marked the fourth straight month with job gains above 200,000 and was an important milestone in the recovery of the economy. It finally recouped the 8.7 million jobs that were lost during the recession. Employment has risen by 8.8 million since hitting a trough in February 2010.

The government said employment increased in May in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.4 million in May. Those people accounted for 34.6 percent of the unemployed. During the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 979,000.

The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged in May, at 62.8 percent. The participation rate has shown no clear trend since this past October, but is down by 0.6 percentage point over the year, the government said. The employment-population ratio, at 58.9 percent, also was unchanged in May and has changed little over the year.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.3 million, changed little in May. Those people were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In May, 2.1 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. The government said they were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks preceding the survey.

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