The U.S. Department of Labor reported this morning that the economy added 280,000 jobs in May, well above consensus for a 226,000 increase and the biggest jump since 2013.The unemployment rate inched upward to 5.5% vs. expectations of 5.4%. The nonfarm payroll employment additions were revised upward, to 119,000 from 85,000 for March, and downward to 221,000 from 223,000 for April. The monthly average payroll gain for the last three months now stands at around 207,000.
Employment increased in professional and business services (+63,000), health care (+47,000), and construction (+17,000) in May, while it declined in the mining sector for the fifth month in a row (-17,000). The labor force participation rate also increased slightly, to 62.9%, from 62.8% the prior month; it has been stuck between 62.7% and 62.9% since April 2014. Wages were shown to have risen 8 cents per hour, which results in an annualized increase of 2.3%.
The jobs figure is critical for the markets as it plays a large role in the Federal Reserve's determination and timing for a rate hike. In response to the report, U.S. bond yields surged upward as the wage increase indicates that inflation in the economy is pushing toward the Fed's target.
That being said, despite the IMF's plea yesterday for the Fed to wait until 2016, signs are increasingly pointing toward a rate increase sometime this year, with many betting on September. As expectations of a hike escalate, our financial positions in Jim Cramer's charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS -- Wells Fargo (WFC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) -- stand to benefit in a major way.
The continued upward trend in jobs should also help our retail and restaurant holdings -- Starbucks (SBUX), WhiteWave Foods (WWAV:NYSE), and Target (TGT) -- as the economy should see a boost in discretionary spending. Overall, however, we are not surprised to see the market having difficulty digesting this news in the short term as fears mount in anticipation of the rate hike.