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US employers added 390,000 jobs despite fears of slowdown

(CNN) — US employers added 390,000 jobs in May, representing a robust but slower pace of hiring, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report released Friday.

The unemployment rate stayed at 3.6%, slightly higher than the half-century low recorded in February 2020, before the pandemic hit.

While the number of jobs added was down from the revised total of 436,000 in April, it was better than many were forecasting. The consensus of economists surveyed by Reuters had been for a gain of 325,000 jobs. And while the unemployment rate did not fall to 3.5% as predicted, it remained at a level considered to be full employment by many economists.

The report comes at a time when fears of a recession are rising, partly because the Federal Reserve is in the process of raising interest rates to try to tame inflation. Higher rates can cause businesses to pull back on expansion and investment plans, including hiring.

Employers were able to add jobs despite a shortage of workers looking for positions. There are nearly two job openings for every jobseeker, according to a separate Labor Department survey.