US lost 532,000 jobs in May, ADP says

Paul Sakuma/AP
Two job seekers looked for work last month at Job Train, an unemployment and job training center in Menlo Park, Calif.

Fewer Americans lost their jobs in May than in any of the previous six months, according to a private employment report. But job losses in the crucial small-business sector edged up.

Overall, the US private nonfarm sector lost 532,000 jobs, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday. That seasonally adjusted total was better than April's revised decline of 545,000 and far better than the peak in March of 736,000. But the report suggested that job losses would continue to outpace job gains for some time.

"Despite some recent indications that economic activity is stabilizing, employment, which usually trails overall economic activity, is likely to decline for at least several more months, although perhaps not as rapidly as during the last six months,” said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, in a release. The company puts out the monthly report, based on payroll data, in partnership with Automatic Data Processing.

The improvement in May was due almost entirely to fewer job losses in the service sector. The smaller goods-producing sector lost 267,000 jobs in May, on par with April's 268,000.

More worrisome was that small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) showed no improvement and actually lost slightly more jobs in May than in April: 209,000 vs. 206,000. The increase was entirely due to losses in the goods-producing sector.

Small business has been protected somewhat from the full brunt of the recession, employing roughly 44 percent of the population but accounting for only 35 to 39 percent of the job losses. But in May that level edged up to 39.3 percent, its largest share since December.

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