US loses just 345,000 jobs in May, raising hopes

Employers throttled back on layoffs in May and cut the fewest jobs in any month since the financial crisis erupted last fall - raising the brightest hope yet that an economic recovery will take hold later this year, AP reported.

But with companies still reluctant to hire, the nation's jobless rate rose to a quarter-century high of 9.4 percent, and it likely will keep rising into 2010, possibly within striking distance of its post-World War II peak of 10.8 percent.

The economy shed 345,000 jobs in May, the Labor Department said Friday - half what it was losing in a month at the start of the year. But the report also underscored how hard it has been for America's 14.5 million unemployed to find new jobs.

"Less bad, yes," Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said, summarizing the economy. "Good, no."

Companies probably won't ramp up hiring until they feel sure a recovery is here to stay. Still, considering the damage the recession has wrought - 6 million jobs lost since December 2007 - it was encouraging that employers cut far fewer jobs in May.

The 345,000 jobs lost was down sharply from 504,000 in April, and an even bigger improvement over the average of nearly 700,000 jobs lost monthly during the first quarter of this year.

"The light at the end of the tunnel just got a lot brighter," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

But not so bright that economists expect more employers to start hiring again this year. Economists expect the pace of layoffs to keep tapering off, but they don't think the economy will begin to create jobs steadily until late next year at the earliest.

"Payrolls are learning to crawl but far from walking," said Michael Feroli, economist at JPMorgan Economics.

Stocks rallied on the better-than-expected news, but then surrendered most of the gains. The Dow Jones industrial average made a brief foray into positive territory for 2009, then pulled back to close up about 13 points at 8,763.13.

The job losses was the fewest since September and the fourth straight month in which the pace of layoffs slowed. In another heartening note, job losses for March and April turned out to be 82,000 less than the government had reported.

"This tide is turning," said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research. "We expect this trend of slower job loss to continue throughout the year."

With no place for the out-of-work to land, the unemployment rate bolted to 9.4 percent from 8.9 percent in April. It was the highest rate since August 1983.

Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps feeling more confident about their job prospects, streamed back into the labor force last month looking for work. That was a factor in the jobless rate's rise, economists said.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called the uptick in unemployment "unacceptable" and pledged to bring it down by helping the unemployed get new skills or training.

Including laid-off workers who have given up looking for new jobs or have settled for part-time work, the so-called underemployment rate would be 16.4 percent in May, the highest on record dating to 1994.

And the number of people out of work six months or more rose to nearly 4 million in May, a record and triple the total from when the recession began.

Dan Blatt, 37, who found a retail job in January after being laid off in October, is one of the lucky few. "I'd be frantic if I didn't have anything now," he said while attending a job fair in New York and looking for something even better.

To cut costs and perhaps avoid imposing further layoffs, employers trimmed workers' hours in May. The average work week fell to 33.1 hours, the lowest on record dating to 1964.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke repeated his prediction this week that the recession will end this year, but again warned that any recovery will be gradual.

Against that backdrop, many economists say the jobless rate will hit 10 percent by the end of this year and will keep rising into 2010. Some economists think it could near 11 percent. The highest since World War II was 10.8 percent at the end of 1982.

"Let me be very clear: A lower job-rate loss is not our goal," Vice President Joe Biden said. "`Less bad' is not how we're going to measure success."

Biden said he will join Obama on Monday in seeking to put more juice into the president's stimulus effort, including higher spending on public works projects. Biden did not provide details.

Solis and some economists credited the stimulus with helping to reduce layoffs in May. But other analysts said the benefits of the stimulus wouldn't really kick in until later this year or more likely next year.

The construction industry saw particular improvement in May, losing 59,000 jobs compared with 108,000 in April. Retailers eliminated 17,500, down from 36,500. Financial activities axed 30,000, down from 45,000.

But factories cut 156,000 jobs in May, slightly more than in April. The government, adding workers for the 2010 Census, reduced its employment by 7,000 after bulking up by 92,000 in April.

Education, health care, leisure and hospitality were among the industries adding jobs.

The Fed says unemployment will remain elevated into 2011, with a tepid economic recovery. The job market may not return to normal - meaning a roughly 5 percent unemployment rate - until 2013, economists say.

Still, evidence is mounting that the recession is letting up, with fresh signs emerging earlier this week. The number of people drawing continuing unemployment benefits dipped for the first time in 20 weeks, and first-time claims also fell. Builders are boosting spending on construction projects, and home sales are somewhat firmer.

But ripple effects from the twin bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler could muddy the job market this month.

During war, they wanted to introduce sanctions against us - President Aliyev
During war, they wanted to introduce sanctions against us - President Aliyev
War Trophy Park in Baku illustrating aggressive nature of Armenia
War Trophy Park in Baku illustrating aggressive nature of Armenia
President Aliyev on transfer of Irevan to Armenia:  I condemned this decision, we should not obscure history
President Aliyev on transfer of Irevan to Armenia: I condemned this decision, we should not obscure history
Loading Bars
Iran and Russia extend bilateral cooperation
During war, they wanted to introduce sanctions against us - President Aliyev
Russia records over 8,300 daily COVID-19 cases
War Trophy Park in Baku illustrating aggressive nature of Armenia
Value of Russian imports of Turkish ready-made clothes disclosed
EU to borrow around 150 billion euros annually for recovery fund
Azerbaijan’s average compliance with OPEC+ deal up - IEA
US imports of Turkish electrical goods grow in value
Moody’s discloses forecast on growth of Azerbaijan's economy for next 3 years
President Aliyev on transfer of Irevan to Armenia: I condemned this decision, we should not obscure history
I have been saying that second Armenian state will never be created in our lands - Azerbaijani president
Baku Military Trophy Park - message for revenge seekers, says Azerbaijani expert (VIDEO)
I did not yield an inch on Karabakh issue - Azerbaijani president
Axpo expanding its business in renewable energies
In 2003, scum of PFPA-Musavat tandem attempted military coup, but it did not work - President Aliyev
I promised that I would defend territorial integrity, and I kept my word - President Aliyev
Army with 10,000 deserters is a disgrace - President Aliyev
Czech Republic interested in number of areas of Turkmenistan
Azerbaijani president about PFPA-Musavat tandem: In order to save themselves, they had to turn to Heydar Aliyev
Georgian Deputy Finance Minister comments IMF forecasts for Georgia
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 14
Number of job seekers from Turkey in Germany decreased
Azerbaijani banks showing great interest in attracting funds via swap method
Defense minister at time promised that if Shusha was surrendered, he'd shoot himself - President Aliyev
Then leader of junta, Sargsyan, promised me to return our lands in aftermath of that bitter defeat - President Aliyev
Heydar Aliyev was main target for Armenians of world - Azerbaijani president
Everyone visiting Military Trophy Park will see strength of our army - Azerbaijani president
We won an unprecedented victory - President Aliyev
Uzbekistan to double trade volume with neighboring countries
Iran's polyethylene exports rise (UPDATE)
South Africa says downpayments to J&J, Pfizer not refundable
EasyJet sees Europe open for travel from late May
Iran’s GTC continues to purchase wheat from farmers
Azerbaijan boosts electricity production volume
Uzbekistan to finance investment projects in Tashkent city
Natanz incident not to hamper Iran's efforts to revive JCPOA - former MP
Iran to pursue expansion of housing
Iran's Atomic Organization discusses enrichment of uranium
Iran to return to JCPOA after other parties fulfill commitments - President Rouhani
Azerbaijan developing transit trade by using advanced int'l experience
Georgian international airports see decrease in passenger traffic
AzeriCard processing center to suspend payment operations in Azerbaijan due to service update
Czech Republic plans to increase volume of mutual trade with Turkmenistan
Turkey's defense industry developing even better despite import sanctions
IMF shares outlook on Azerbaijan's natural gas export for 2021-2022
Georgia reports 1,085 coronavirus cases for April 14
Hungarian Wizz Air to return to Georgian aviation sector
Investments in Kazakhstan's fixed assets down
Unique for Central Asia tourist complex launched in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan Banks Association seeks to create special mobile banking platforms
Azerbaijan needs to ensure efficient online opening of bank accounts - ABA head
Russia allows supply of peppers, tomatoes from some Uzbek enterprises
Azerbaijani, Belarus presidents hold one-on-one meeting (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Germany discuss issues of co-op on transport sector
Sales of Iranian mining companies grow
GiLTEX welcomes customers in new Sumgayit shop (PHOTO)
Hungarian companies may take part in business forum on restoration of Azerbaijan's liberated lands
Kazakhstan's agriculture output surges over 1Q2021
Azerbaijani Central Bank to facilitate growth of countrywide mobile banking
Half of allocated for cotton land sown in Turkmenistan’s Mary region
Iran to create infrastructures in industrial parks of Qazvin Province
Azerbaijani insurance, financial companies eye to be integrated with ASAN Login
Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia to expand co-op in tourism sector
Georgia preparing to place Eurobonds on London Stock Exchange
Georgia holds auction of thermal water company's privatization
Shares of Turkmenistan’s Senagat Joint-Stock Commercial Bank to be put on sale
Iranian energy minister talks about water, electricity facilities to be launched
Gold, silver prices rebound in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan developing mobile platform for money transfers
Azerbaijani SOCAR names amount of recently realized investment projects
IMF expects Azerbaijan’s gas output to rise in 2021
Azerbaijan eyes expanding multimodal cargo transportation with Ukraine
UAE partners with Japan's iSpace to send rover to the moon in 2022
Activities of Iran’s Jask port expand
Iran boosts exports of agricultural products
Georgia aims to ensure sustainable development of wine industry
Turkish Energy Ministry prolongs TPAO's license for oil, gas exploration
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Value of Azerbaijan's 1Q2021 imports of Turkish chemical products disclosed
Kazakhstan's revenues from transportation via pipelines down
Kazakh gas supply company to buy pipes via tender
Kazakhstan’s national postal service operator to buy construction materials via tender
Iran’s South Pars Gas Company reveals its production data
Azerbaijani MPs to leave for Russia
Kazakhstan’s Air Astana launching flights to Georgian Batumi
Iran discloses data of iron, non-alloy steel exports
Turkmenistan, Qatar interested in developing trade, economic ties
BP to conduct planned maintenance at Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli
IAI teams with Thales on missiles for British frigates
Azerbaijani currency rates for Apr.14
Foreign investments increase in Iran's industry, mine and trade sector
Indonesian e-commerce firm Bukalapak raises $234 million
Military Trophy Park in Baku to expose Armenia's unprecedented crimes - expert
Freight train derails in Turkey
Gasoline prices to rise amid expected growth in fuel demand
Hydrocarbons to supply half of world’s energy needs by 2050
Belarus expresses readiness to support Azerbaijan in restoration of liberated Karabakh (PHOTO)
Iranian currency rates for April 14
All sanctions against Iran should be lifted unconditionally, Russia says
Turkmenistan losing popularity among Turkish job seekers
All news