The U.S. economy added only 54,000 jobs in May, sending the unemployment rate up a tenth of a percentage point to 9.1 percent, in the latest sign of a slowing recovery.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the job gains continued in professional and business services, health care and mining. Employment levels in other major private-sector industries were little changed, however, and local government employment continued to decline. Employment in professional and business services continued to increase in May by 44,000.

Notable job gains occurred in accounting and bookkeeping services, with a gain of 18,000 jobs, and in computer systems design and related services, with a gain of 8,000 jobs. Employment in temporary help services was little changed.

In May, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 361,000 to 6.2 million; their share of unemployment increased to 45.1 percent.

“Job growth slowed substantially in May as the overall economy is starting to show choppiness,” said Kathy Bostjancic, director for macroeconomic analysis at the Conference Board. “There is some weakness in manufacturing and construction. The real story, however, is the lack of stronger job growth in ‘core’ services which excludes the secular gains in health and education. Relatively modest gains in consumer spending are limiting job growth in ‘core’ services. With households worried about high gas and grocery prices, and the slow pace of wage gains, spending could even slow a little more this summer. Employers spent a great deal of time and attention reducing costs over the past few years and are reluctant to add to their cost structure unless they can be certain the economy will not hit a soft patch. This degree of caution could remain in evidence right through Labor Day.”

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