U.S. employers added just 75,000 jobs in May, a sharp decline from the month prior and a far cry from what economists were expecting.
The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent — or 5.9 million people — in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday in its monthly jobs report.
May’s dismal jobs growth is far below the average 164,000 in 2019, suggesting that economic growth is slowing in the U.S. The average monthly gain for 2018 was 223,000 jobs.
"This relatively weak number may reflect some risk aversion on the part of employers in the face of increased uncertainty in the economy, stemming from trade tensions and global economic weakening," Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a statement to Cheddar.
The industries with the largest gains were professional and business services and health care, which added over 33,000 and 16,000 jobs in May respectively. The construction sector added roughly 4,000 jobs.
In May, average hourly earnings also increased 0.2 percent, or 6 cents.
The jobs report come amid enduring economic tension between two of the U.S.’ most significant trading partners: China and Mexico.
After several days of negotiations in Washington this week, U.S. and Mexican officials failed to reach an agreement and avoid President Trump’s punitive 5 percent tariff hike set to go into effect on June 10.
“There are some questions on how the proposed tariffs are going to impact businesses in the United States,” Beth Akers, a senior fellow at the economic think tank the Manhattan Institute, told Cheddar. “Businesses are responding with hesitance to expand their labor pools.”
The White House first threatened tariffs on Mexican imports in May in an effort to force Mexico to curb migration at the U.S. southern border. The move set markets tumbling and was immediately met with backlash from businesses and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
“The President has said what he means and he meant what he said. We made that very clear to the Mexican delegation yesterday — that for anything to change, either before or after Monday, Mexico has to step up,” Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Thursday. "Mexico has to take decisive action to end this surge of illegal immigration that is literally overwhelming our southern border.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated the administration's stance on Friday, saying “our position hasn’t changed. Tariffs are going to take effect on Monday,” according to public pool reports.