Payrolls rose by 431,000 last month, including a 411,000 jump in government hiring of temporary workers for the 2010 census, Labor Department figures in Washington showed today. Economists projected a 536,000 gain, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Private payrolls rose a less-than-forecast 41,000. The jobless rate fell to 9.7 percent.
Staff reductions at companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Citigroup Inc. indicate a slowing in the labor market that threatens to restrain consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday that unemployment was exacting a heavy toll, showing why economists forecast interest rates will remain low.
“It’s going to be a long haul,” Michael Englund, chief economist at Action Economics LLC in Boulder, Colorado, said before the report. “We really aren’t adding many jobs. We’ve lost some momentum in the economy and final sales clearly aren’t enough to generate job growth.”
Stock-index futures fell and Treasury securities rose after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 2.1 percent to 1,080 at 8:38 a.m. in New York. The 10- year Treasury note rose, pushing down the yield to 3.27 percent from 3.37 percent late yesterday.
Payrolls estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 82 economists ranged from 220,000 to 750,000 after a gain of 290,000 jobs in April. Economists surveyed also forecast the jobless rate fell to 9.8 percent last month from 9.9 percent in April. Unemployment reached a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October. The May figures showed the labor force shrank 322,000.
Federal hiring of temporary workers to conduct the decennial population count probably peaked last month, economists said.
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