U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in May, steady hiring but below the more robust pace that took place during the fall and winter.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April. The increase occurred because more people began looking for work, a good sign.
The government said the economy added 12,000 fewer jobs in April and March.
Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs in past three months, below the average of 237,000 created from November through February.
The modest gains likely mean the Federal Reserve will continue its bond purchases. The Fed has said it will maintain its pace of bond purchases until the job market improves substantially. The purchases have helped drive down interest rates and boost stock prices.
More good news from the latest St. Louis jobs report.
The metro area's unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in April. That is substantially better than the national rate of 7.1 percent.
Trade and utility workers saw the biggest increase in employment last month, adding nearly 10,000 jobs. And for the second month in a row, the government experienced the sharpest contraction, shedding 4200 jobs.
Governor Jay Nixon says the latest unemployment figures show Missouri's economy continues to build positive momentum.
The state's jobless rate ticked down a tenth of a percent to 6.6 in April. The hospitality sector saw the largest gains with 4,800 new jobs, but construction and finance both lost 700 jobs.
The national rate sits at 7.5 percent.