The Department of Labor released its May employment report (link opens a PDF) today, and messages are mixed on labor market improvements.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased 175,000, slightly exceeding analysts' expectations of a 167,000 gain. However, predictions of a maintained 7.5% unemployment rate were dashed as it bumped back up to 7.6%. 

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Source: bls.gov. 

Gains in professional & business services added 57,000 jobs to the market, followed close behind by food services & drinking places' 38,000 increase in employment. Retail jobs bumped up 28,000, while health care employment managed an 11,000 increase.

Public sector cuts continue to take their toll, with federal government employment down 14,000 in May, and 45,000 over the last three months.

The report also details changes in hours worked per week and hourly earnings. While analysts had expected a slight 0.2% increase in earnings, average hourly wages stayed flat at $23.89 for May. At the same time, average hours per week remained relatively unchanged at 34.5 hours.

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