News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, released the following statement in response to a Department of Labor report that U.S. employers cut 49,000 jobs in May. The jump in the unemployment rate – from 5.0% to 5.5% - was the largest monthly jump in unemployment in more than two decades Senator Murray is working on a comprehensive approach to training young workers for skilled jobs.

"These statistics are a pointed reminder of the Administration's failures to train workers for the skilled jobs of today’s economy. From nursing, to technology, to education we have industries facing shortfalls in workers, yet unemployment continues to climb. Years of Administration cuts to job training programs that provide workers with the skills employers seek are clearly taking a toll. Reversing this trend will take a forward looking policy that faces up to the global job market and closes the skills gap in our country."

Summary of Department of Labor Statistics for May:

  • The overall unemployment rose from 5.0% to 5.5% in May -- up from 4.5% a year ago.
  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 861,000, to 8.5 million in May – with the increase disproportionately large among 16 to 24 year olds. 
  • The number of long-term unemployed continued to rise.  The number of persons unemployed for 27 weeks ore more totaled 1.6 million in May – up from 1.1 million in 2007.
  • Over the last 12 months, the number of unemployed job losers has increased by 907,000.
  • Total payroll declined by 80,000 jobs last month and has declined by 324,000 since the beginning of the year.
  • The unemployment rate for teenagers rose in May to 18.7%, up 3.3 percent from April.
  • Employment in construction declined by 34,000 in May and has fallen by 475,000 since an employment peak in September 2006.
  • Manufacturing employment fell by 26,000 in May; thus far in 2008, monthly job losses in manufacturing have averaged 41,000 compared with 22,000 a month in 2007 and 14,000 in 2006.
  • The number of people who are working part-time and want full-time work was unchanged in May at 5.2 million, but has increased by 764,000 over the last 12 months.