New Hampshire added 2,300 jobs in May

Workforce grows, but average wages only increase slightly

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate in May ticked up a point from April, to 2.7 percent, but the number of jobs in the state increased by 2,300, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate was 2.7 percent in May 2017 as well, but 6,840 fewer residents were working at the time then, and about twice that if you are looking at nonfarm labor. 

What matters more is that more people are entering the state’s workforce, but some of the biggest employment gains are in jobs that don’t pay that well.

For instance, there was nearly a 5 percent increase in leisure and hospitality workers from last year, about 3,300 new jobs. These jobs pay on average $15.32 an hour with an average of 24.5 hours a week. (Hourly wages have gone up 38 cents since last year, but wages are down, so the average weekly wage was down by more than a dollar to $375.34) 

There was an increase of 2,900 jobs in retail trade, which similarly offers lower wages and part-time work, though monthly wage and hour figures are masked by it being grouped in with wholesale trade, transportation and utilities.

But educational and health services gained 3,500 jobs – jobs that average $28.94 per hour, though pay and hours both went down in May. Manufacturing jobs increased by 1,700, but hourly pay went down a little, to $25.23 an hour. That was more than offset by an increase in hours worked to 41.7 from 40. 

The cut in hourly manufacturing wages (a continuation form April) puzzled Zenagui Brahim, president of the NH Manufacturing Extension Partnership, because wages had been climbing until very recently. But that may have been partly due to industry (and his organization’s) efforts to bring in more young people to fill entry-level positions.

There were also 1,800 more construction jobs. 

The biggest job loss was 700 in the information sector, which includes media. 

Overall, nonfarm hourly wages are up by 60 cents, but since hours decreased slightly, that translated to an $8 weekly increase, $1,010.32 a week.

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