Employment and Unemployment

June 2018 Jobs Report


According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. employment rate for May 2018 was 3.8, the lowest rate since April 2000. This rate was also below market expectations of 3.9 percent. The number of unemployed dropped by 281 thousand to 6.07 million for the month (Civilian Unemployment Rate).  The job total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223 thousand in May (Total Nonfarm Payroll).  Employment continued to trend up in several industries, including retail trade (+31,000), construction (+25,000), and health care (+13,000).

Transportation and warehousing industry added 19,000 jobs over the month and 156,000 over the year. Manufacturing employment continued to expand over the month (+18,000). Durable goods accounted for most of the change, including an increase of 6,000 jobs in machinery.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.7 percent in May from 62.8 percent in the previous month, while the employment-population ratio rose to 60.4 percent from 60.3 percent. 

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in May.

The number of persons marginally attached to the labor force, is at 1.5 million in May. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. As one may or may not know, the marginally attached labor force are not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the unemployment survey.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), Whites (3.6 percent), African Americans (5.9 percent), Asians (2.1 percent), and Latinos (4.9 percent) experienced decreases in their unemployment rates from the previous month.


April 2018

May 2018



Nonfarm Payrolls

162 million

218 million

56 million

Number Unemployed

6.35 million

6.06 million

-0.29 million

Unemployment Rate





A Note of Caution

The unemployment rate is a broad measure of how workers are faring in the economy (although it tends to be a lag or delay).  The unemployment rate as generally reported does not count discouraged workers, nor does it measure under-employment, for example, workers who want a full-time job but can only find part-time work (see What is Unemployment).  There are alternative measures to account for unemployed or underemployed workers.  One measure termed “U-6” by the BLS increases the unemployment rate by several percentage points.  However, even an adjusted unemployment rate does not capture the quality of jobs in the economy. This last point is particularly important to keep in mind, given the growth of non-standard (temporary and/or contingent) jobs in the U.S. economy (see How Healthy is the labor market Really?).  

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