US jobs surge casts doubt over interest rate cuts

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Hiring in the US surged unexpectedly last month, continuing to defy predictions of a slowdown while raising fresh questions about when interest rates will fall.

Employers added 272,000 jobs in May, the US Labor Department said, above expectations of 185,000 new roles.

The US jobs market is being closely by the country’s central bank for how it is holding up under the weight of borrowing costs which are at the highest level for more than 20 years.

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates sharply to fight inflation, which measures the pace of price rises. The Fed has cited the strength in employment as a sign that the economy can handle the current rates.

The latest job figures will bolster the case that talk of cutting borrowing costs is premature, analysts said.

“Today’s data suggests the Fed is going to have to sit tight and wait a while longer before that first cut can be considered,” said Richard Carter, head of fixed interest research at Quilter Cheviot, the investment management firm.

He added that the figures had the potential to take any move this year “off the table”.

The report from the US Labor Department also showed average hourly pay rose by more than expected to 4.1% over the last 12 months. Economists had expected a 3.9% increase.

Health care firms, bars, restaurants and the government led hiring, it said.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated using a different survey from the jobs figures, ticked up to 4%, from 3.9% in April.



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