The United States economy appears to be sputtering into the summer months, as the latest unemployment rate has reached its highest level since January.
According to the Labor Department’s report, the jobless rate in May jumped to 9.1 percent, an increase from 9 percent in April. Nonfarm payroll employers added only 54,000 new workers last month, which is the fewest in eight months. Local governments took a big hit, losing approximately 28,000 jobs. Furthermore, private businesses hired only 83,000 new employees in May, the smallest monthly increase in nearly a year.
CNN reported that economists expected the unemployment rate to fall to 8.9 percent. Instead, employer confidence seemed to dramatically dwindle compared to April, when U.S. companies added 232,000 jobs.
Stock futures fell sharply after the government’s report was released on June 3. The Associated Press indicated that Dow futures dropped 146 points, or 1.2 percent, ahead of the opening bell. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures fell 16 points, or 1.3 percent.
“The employment data have confirmed the markets’ worst fears about a marked slowdown in U.S. economic activity, to the extent that any one report can be relied upon,” Alan Ruskin, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, told NPR.