WASHINGTON -- The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 per cent in May -- the biggest monthly rise since 1986 -- as nervous employers cut 49,000 jobs.Quote has been trimmed
The latest snapshot of business conditions showed a deeply troubled economy, with dwindling job opportunities in a time of continuing hardship in the housing, credit and financial sectors.
With employers worried about a sharp slowdown and their own prospects, they clamped down on hiring in May, said Friday's report from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate soared from five per cent in April to 5.5 per cent in May. That was the biggest one-month jump in the rate since February 1986. The increase left the jobless rate at its highest since October 2004.
The big jump in the unemployment rate surprised economists who were forecasting a tick-up to 5.1 per cent. Payroll losses, however, weren't as deep as the 60,000 that analysts were bracing for. Still, job losses in both March and April turned out to be larger than the government previously reported. Employers now have cut payrolls for five straight months.
The 5.5 per cent rate is relatively moderate judged by historical standards. Yet, there was no question that employers last month sharply cut jobs in manufacturing, construction, retailing and professional and businesses services....