Total payroll employment increased by 223,000 jobs in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, beating the average of the previous 12 months, which was an increase of 191,000 and up from 164,000 in April. Employment continued to trend up in several industries, including construction, retail, and health care all of which impact the demand for one form of real estate or another.
Employment in construction continued on an upward trend in May (up 25,000) and has risen by a total of 286,000 over the past 12 months. Within the industry, nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 15,000 jobs last month. Employment in professional and technical services, which affects office space demand, also increased in May (up 23,000) and has risen by 206,000 over the last 12 months.
In May, retail added 31,000 jobs, with gains occurring in general merchandise stores—the likes of Walmart—(up 13,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (up 6,000). Over the last year, retail has added 125,000 jobs all together. Employment in health care rose by 29,000 jobs in May, about in line with the average monthly gain over the last 12 months.
The headline unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent, the BLS reported, the lowest the rate has been since 2000. The more expansive definition of unemployment, which the bureau called U-6, is also dropping, coming in at 7.6 percent in May, down from 7.8 percent in April and 8.4 percent a year ago. That metric includes total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons (those who want full-time work but can’t find it).