Unemployment Rate Drops To 16-Year Low

June 2, 2017
Average hourly wage up 3 cents to $22 per hour

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nation's jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent — the lowest level since May 2001. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May, setting the unemployment rate at 4.3 percent. The number of unemployed has decreased by 774,000 since January.

Industries that saw the most job gains were:

  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction  added 7,000 jobs in May, bringing a total of 47,000 jobs since the October 2016 low. Most of the growth is in support activities.
  • Construction added 11,000 jobs.
  • Employment in health care rose by 24,000 jobs in May. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the month, and employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up (+13,000).Job growth in health care has averaged 22,000 per month thus far in 2017, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.


The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in May. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.7 hours, while overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. 

The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.


In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 63 cents, or 2.5 percent. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.00. 

Highs and Lows

Areas of the country with the lowest unemployment rates in April were Ames, Iowa at 1.7 percent and Boulder, Colorado at 1.8 percent. The highest employment rate was found in El Centro, California at 19.2 percent.