WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. employers added 217,000 jobs in May, with the unemployment rate remaining at its near six-year low, suggesting the economy is steadily gaining momentum.
The unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent, unchanged from last month, according to a hiring and joblessness report released by the Labor Department Friday morning. The labor participation rate, which is a metric closely followed by Federal Reserve, remained unchanged at 62.8 percent.
Job gains were seen across the board and followed April's figures of 282,000. Economists polled by Bloomberg had estimated 215,000 jobs would be created in May, making these numbers better-than-expected.
Nearly five years after the recovery began total payrolls passed their pre-recession levels, a major landmark for the economy. Over the last six months employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs following sluggish job gains in December and January. Average hourly earning rose 5 cents in May to $24.38, with the length of the typical workweek remaining unchanged at 34.5 hours.
Employment in health services climbed by the most in nine months, while payrolls at factories, business services and retailers increased as well.
Private payrolls reached 116.1 million in March, surpassing their pre-recession levels. While private employers have steadily increased their payrolls, government agencies and the Postal Service have continued to shed workers, with total government employees down by one million from four years ago.