Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S.Department of Labor reported today (June 1). The rise was greater than expected by Wall Street, which reacted by driving stocks up in early trading.

Health care and food services added jobs, while employment declined in manufacturing. Average hourly earnings rose by 6 cents, or 0.3%, over the month.

The number of unemployed persons (6.8 million) and the unemployment rate (4.5%) were unchanged in May. The jobless rate has ranged from 4.4 to 4.6% since September 2006.

Employment in construction was unchanged in May, with no significant movements among the component industries. Since its recent peak in September, construction employment has decreased by 54,000.

Manufacturing employment continued to decline in May (-19,000). About half of the decline occurred in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing, which lost 10,000 jobs over the month. Over the year, factory employment decreased by 164,000, with motor vehicles and parts accounting for nearly half of the loss.