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National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow (C) speaks to members of the news media on new US job figures and steel tariffs against Canada, Europe and Mexico, outside the White House in Washington, DC, USA, June 1, 2018. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow (C) speaks to members of the news media on new US job figures and steel tariffs against Canada, Europe and Mexico, outside the White House in Washington, DC, USA, June 1, 2018. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

U.S. unemployment rate lowest in 18 years

U.S. employment has risen for 92 consecutive months, the longest jobs-expansion streak on record.

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The United States' headline unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May, the lowest level since April 2000, the Labor Department said Friday.

A total of 223,000 new nonfarm jobs were created last month, exceeding economists' expectations.

U.S. employment has risen for 92 consecutive months, the longest jobs-expansion streak on record, while the current jobless rate in the U.S. indicates a market with virtually full employment.

Average hourly wages for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by an average of $0.08 last month to $26.92; average hourly earnings have moved up 2.7 percent so far this year, and economists expect labor costs to keep rising.

The labor force participation rate, defined as the share of the population 16 years and older either working or seeking work, dropped minimally from 62.8 percent to 62.7 percent.

Besides the headline unemployment rate (U-3), the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics also releases other unemployment figures, among them the so-called U-6 rate, which also includes underemployed and discouraged workers.

The U-6 came in at a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.6 percent last month, down from 7.8 percent in April and 8.4 percent in May 2017.

"With the unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent in May, the lowest in over 18 years, America's job market remains strong. 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 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively," Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said in a statement.

"With 223,000 jobs created in May, America's job creators have now added over 3.4 million jobs since President (Donald) Trump's election. That job increase includes more than a million jobs since the president signed his tax cuts package into law five months ago."

This latest strong labor-market report raises expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike interest rates once again at its next policy meeting in mid-June.

The Fed's benchmark federal-funds rate currently is set at a range of between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent.

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