Job growth braked sharply in May and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since June, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further to shore up the sputtering recovery.
The Labor Department report on Friday, which showed employers added a paltry 69,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the fewest since May last year, is also troubling news for President Barack Obama ahead of November’s elections.
The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent partly because people flocked into the labor market.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to increase 150,000 and the jobless rate to hold steady at 8.1 percent.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as more people shopped its established U.S. discount stores and spent more money.
The world’s largest retailer, which was recently rocked by allegations of bribery in Mexico, earned $1.09 per share from continuing operations, compared with a profit of 98 cents a year earlier.
An earlier Easter and warmer weather contributed to the gains, the company said.
The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing in the Northeast held up in March, providing more signs the economy was firmly on a self-sustaining growth path.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That took claims back to a four-year low reached in February.
Separately, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index rose to 20.21 - highest level since June 2010 - from 19.53 in February.
"This suggests that the recovery is firmly on track," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Read more: Jobless claims back at four-year lows
As gas prices inch toward $4.00, Americans are trading in their older model vehicles for new, fuel-efficient ones.
We already know that the more fuel-efficient a vehicle is, the more money is saved on gasoline; this graph puts how much savings that is into perspective. [REUTERS]
Zurich topped Tokyo to become the world’s most expensive city, as surging currencies push up the cost of living in countries like Switzerland and Australia, a survey showed on Tuesday.
This graphic organizes those survey results into the ten most/least expensive cities. Are you surprised by any of the results? [REUTERS graphic]