- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2010

A bulge in hiring by the U.S. Census Bureau caused a jump in jobs last month, accounting for 411,000 out of 431,000 new jobs reported by employers during the month, the Labor Department said Friday morning.

Hiring also increased in manufacturing, mining and temporary business services, but it fell in construction after the expiration of a federal housing tax credit on April 30. Job gains also were meager in health care, the most resilient sector during the recession, growing by only 8,000 during May, and state and local governments shed 13,000 jobs.

Overall, the labor report showed the job market continued to improve — albeit at a glacial pace — furthering the recovery in jobs that started at the turn of the year. The unemployment rate has declined from over 10 percent last fall to 9.7 percent last month.

The department revised slightly downward sizable job gains of over 200,000 reported in March and April.

But the progress may seem painfully slow to the 15 million people who are unemployed — half of those thrown out of work during the two-year-long recession.

John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said the weak job gains of 41,000 in the private sector last month were a disappointment, much less than the over 100,000 economists had predicted in a bout of hype leading up to the report.

“There’s growth, but it’s too slow to generate the revenues public policymakers are hoping for, and too slow to generate all the jobs households are expecting,” he said.

President Obama may also be disappointed in the report, as in an unusual move, he had predicted earlier this week that job gains would be particularly strong in May.

The big jump in census jobs, while offering a bit of respite to job-seekers, was somewhat illusory, as most of the jobs created to conduct the door-to-door headcount lasted only a couple of weeks, Mr. Silvia said.

David Forrester, analyst at Barclays Capital, said the financial markets could experience a setback Friday since investors had widely anticipated a more significant addition of private jobs in May.

He predicted a “pain trade” in stocks and other risky asset markets as a result of the “surprisingly weak outcome.” Several private reports on jobs earlier this month had seemed to foreshadow more robust gains in employment in the labor report.

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