WASHINGTON (CN) – The nation added 431,000 jobs in May, though most were temporary hires for the Census, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. Private-sector growth was weak, adding just 41,000 jobs. Unemployment dipped to 9.7 percent, down from 9.9 percent in April.
Temporary Census hires accounted for 411,000 out of the 431,000 jobs created in May. While government jobs grew by 390,000, the private sector added just 41,000 new jobs. Private-sector job creation slowed way down from April, which saw 218,000 new private-sector jobs.
The job numbers were lower than predicted by economists, who had estimated that 540,000 jobs would be created in May.
The manufacturing, temporary help services and mining industries added jobs, while the number of construction jobs declined.
Unemployment is back to 9.7 percent after spiking to 9.9 percent in April due to an increase in reentrants to the labor force. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.7 percent during the first three months of 2010.
A total of 15 million people were jobless and looking for work in May. Nearly half of the unemployed, or 6.8 million, had been without work for 27 weeks or more.
Last week, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell, but the job market remains weak.