May jobs report blows past forecasts as labor market remains hot

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The U.S. labor market continues to simmer as the economy added significantly more jobs than expected in May, furthering the view that the Federal Reserve will wait until at least September to cut interest rates.

Employment data also showed the jobless rate inching slightly higher to 4% from 3.9% in April, breaching a 27-month stretch of holding below that threshold. 

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 272,000 jobs last month, exceeding forecasts of 180,000. Downward revisions had 15,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in March and April combined. 

While exceeding forecasts, the report is not out of line with the narrative of an economy coming in for a “soft landing,” rather than plunging toward a recession. A number above 300,000 would raise concerns about the jobs market overheating, according to Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth.

Layoffs have continued to be subdued and inflation, which flared earlier this year, has resumed its gradual descent.

The Fed has been waiting for additional evidence of a slowing economy before lowering short-term rates from their two-decade high. 

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