U.S. unemployment hits lowest level since 2001

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs last month, less than the 174,000 jobs gained in April and lower than expected.

But the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in May — its lowest level since May 2001. Shorty after the Great Recession ended in June 2009, unemployment peaked at 10 percent.

Americans are earning more as well as wages continued to pick up. Hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent during the past 12 months.

So far this year, the U.S. has added 810,000 jobs. Since February, the first jobs report under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has gained 594,000 jobs.

However, a litany of factors, such as consumer spending and interest rates, influence hiring decisions. Job creation is not just a function of White House policies.

The jobs numbers likely clear the path for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates later this month. Fed officials indicated last week a rate hike would be likely if the economy stayed on track.