United States economy added only 75,000 jobs in May

The Latest: US employers added a weak 75,000 jobs in May

Against the backdrop of worsening trade conflicts, US job creation slowed sharply in May, with hiring drying up in major industries and wage growth stagnating, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Or, an unexpectedly weak employment report could intensify concerns that after a healthy first quarter, the United States economy is actually stumbling.

The U.S. central bank raised interest rates four times a year ago.

The economy is showing signs of sluggishness after having expanded at a healthy 3.1% annual rate in the April-June quarter.

Consumers have been cautious about spending, and companies are scaling back their investment in high-cost machinery and equipment.

The Atlanta Fed is forecasting gross domestic product rising at a 1.5% annualised rate in the second quarter. Hicks says there had been speculation that if the economy slows, the Federal Reserve could cut rates.

The Final Word: Markets are pricing in a more than 85% chance that the Fed raises interest rates in July, according to CME Group's Fed Fund futures prices.

Manufacturers have barely added jobs in the past three months after healthy gains a year ago, a sign that trade conflicts and a slowdown in auto sales might be slowing hiring.

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Job growth has come back strong after February, when just 33,000 jobs were added.

Residential and commercial construction has weakened, a trend that could force builders to shed workers.

That would bring the policy rate down to between 1.5% and 1.75%, undoing most of the tightening the central bank undertaken a year ago as the US economy strengthened. So have the education and health services industries.

"The market reaction to the weak United States employment report for May suggests that investors are putting a lot of faith in the Fed and its ability to keep the economy strong", Andrew Hunter, a senior USA economist at Capital Economics, told investors in a Friday memo. This was behind forecasts of 180,000 and below the 100,000 level needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

Monthly wage growth remained moderate in May, with average hourly earnings increasing six cents, or 0.2% following a similar gain in April.

Hassett is still predicting growth will be about 3% this year as Trump's tax cuts and deregulation continue to play out. "Uncertainties and supply chain disruptions caused by recent trade disputes, paired with slowdowns in orders from overseas, are the likely culprits".

FILE PHOTO: Workers pour cement at a construction site for an office town in downtown San Diego, California, U.S., April 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, Mexico has prepared a list of possible retaliatory tariffs targeting US products from agricultural and industrial states regarded as Trump's electoral base, a tactic the Chinese regime has also used with an eye toward the Republican president's 2020 re-election bid.

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