Unemployment at Lowest Rate in Half Century

WASHINGTON—The unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in May, tying the lowest unemployment rate since 1969, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The economy also added 223,000 jobs.

Since 1969, the only other time unemployment has been this low was in April 2000. “America’s job market remains strong,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The unemployment rates for African-Americans and Asian-Americans reached record lows. Adult women and adult men recorded the lowest unemployment rates since 2000, at 3.3% and 3.5% respectively.”

Wages grew 2.7% in May compared with a year earlier. The economy been expanding for almost nine years, the second-longest streak on record. And employers have added jobs every month for seven-and-a-half years.

“Another strong jobs report and a further decline in the already low unemployment rate carries good and not so good news for lodging industry participants,“ said Mark Woodworth, senior managing director, head of lodging research for CBRE Hotels. “More people working, along with a favorable increase in salaries and wages, provides the opportunity for more people to travel away from home—the rising incomes will also help to off-set the elevated gasoline prices as we head into the summer season. The not-so-good news is that continued declines in the unemployment rate underscores the scarcity of labor, which in turn drives up the cost.”

For more on the difficult labor market, see the May 21 issue of Hotel Business.