US unemployment slips to '81 level; jobs set record

Unemployment in the United States took a step in the right direction in May, dropping to 7.5 percent. This matched the rate for January of 1981, the month President Reagan took office.

With businesses creating 890,000 new jobs, the decline broke a string of two consecutive months when the rate stood at 7.8 percent. The new hirings raised total employment to 105.3 million, the highest on record. Still, an estimated 8. 5 million Americans were without work, the Labor Department said.

Of the more than 105 million working Americans, 42.5 million were women. This represented 50.5 percent of the more than 85 million women in the population, the first time ever that more than half of all adult women have been employed, the department said.

Even though roughly 558,000 people entered the labor force in search of work, the creation of nearly 900,000 jobs more than accommodated them.

The declines in joblessness touched every population group, but was strongest among adult men and women and among blacks.

The average manufacturing workweek fell by 30 minutes from the high April level of 41.2 hours to 40.7 hours, an indication that employers were willing to hire new workers rather than just spread the work among the existing work force.

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