US adds 75,000 jobs in May, far less than expected amid heightened trade uncertainty

The U.S. added a less-than-expected 75,000 jobs in May, indicating that trade tensions with China and Mexico could be weighing on employers as concerns over an economic slowdown persist.

Experts predicted an increase of 185,000 jobs last month.

The number of positions the U.S. added in April dropped to 224,000, down from a previously forecasted 263,000, according to revised data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. March employment gains were also corrected down to 153,000.

Unemployment in the country remains at 3.6 percent, the lowest since 1969.

Job growth continued in the professional services and health care sectors but was largely flat in the construction, manufacturing, retail and hospitality industries, among others. Manufacturers, for example, added 3,000 jobs, while retailers lost 7,600 positions.

Average hourly earnings in May rose 6 cents to $27.83, a 3.1 percent increase year-over-year.

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Friday's report comes after disappointing growth in private sector jobs in May. It also comes amid uncertainty for employers over the future of the U.S.'s trading relationship with Mexico and China.

President Trump is poised to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexico on Monday, duties that would rise in October to 25 percent if the country does not meet the White House's demands to do more to curb illegal border crossings.

The administration is also considering tariffs on another $300 billion in shipments from China. Currently, $250 billion in imports from the Asian nation are subject to a 25 percent tariff.

Economists and other experts have warned the trade war with two of the largest U.S. trading partners could slow U.S. economic growth. The Federal Reserve is weighing a cut to interest rates as a result of the tensions.

Despite the ongoing disputes, some experts say an economic slowdown is still unlikely.

"We still think a recession is not in the cards over the coming twelve months and investors should ensure their portfolios are in-line with desired long-term strategic allocations," said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo.


Businesses small and large have warned that the duties could hike costs for consumers. Vehicles prices, for example, could rise by more than $1,000 if the tariffs on Mexico reach 25 percent.