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A waiter works at a restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia on June 3, 2022.

Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

The US payroll report for May beat expectations, supported by strong job gains in professional and business services and a rise in government employment.

Professional and business services led job creation this month with 64,000 new hires, after a similarly large increase in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday.

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The government added 56,000 jobs last month, more than the average monthly gain of 42,000 over the previous 12 months. Government employment is still more than 200,000 jobs below pre-Covid pandemic levels.

Job gains were broad-based last month, with healthcare adding 52k and leisure and hospitality adding 48k. Growth in the latter sector was largely driven by food and beverage outlets, which had added an average of 77,000 new jobs per month over the previous 12 months.

Overall, the US economy added 339,000 jobs this month, much more than the Dow Jones estimate of 190,000 and marking the 29th consecutive month of positive job growth.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% in May from an estimate of 3.5%. The unemployment rate was the highest since October 2022 but is still near its lowest level since 1969.

Olu Sonola, head of US regional economics at Fitch Ratings, said the jobs report was mixed.

“The strength of the payroll survey is clearly a big surprise, primarily due to robust job growth in the healthcare and corporate and service sectors,” Sonola said. “However, the 0.3% rise in the unemployment rate is the highest monthly increase since April 2020.”

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