WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers hired only 54,000 new workers in May, the fewest in eight months, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent.
The Labor Department report offered startling evidence that the U.S. economy is slowing, hampered by high gas prices and natural disasters in Japan that have hurt U.S. manufacturers.
The pace of hiring has weakened dramatically from the previous three months, when the economy added an average of 220,000 new jobs. Private companies hired only 83,000 new workers in May — the fewest in nearly a year.
Stock futures plunged after the report was released.
Local governments cut 28,000 jobs last month, the most since November. Nearly 18,000 of those jobs were in education.