And unemployment has fallen from a 10 percent peak in 2009 partly for an unfortunate reason: Fewer people are working or seeking work. The percentage of adults who either have a job or are looking for one remained at a 35-year low in May.
Yet the United States is faring far better than most other major industrial nations.
Overall unemployment for the 18 countries that use the euro, for example, was 11.7 percent in April, though some European nations, such as Germany and Denmark, have much lower rates. On Thursday, Europe’s central bank cut interest rates and took other extraordinary steps to try to boost ultra-low inflation, encourage more lending and jump-start growth.
Japan is struggling to emerge from more than a decade of sluggish growth and deflation. And China has been undergoing a prolonged slowdown from explosive expansion and is at risk of slowing too sharply.
“The U.S. was incredibly aggressive” after the financial crisis and Great Recession, said Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University.
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By the numbers
•A hefty 332,000 new jobs last month went to those who finished college, the Labor Department said Friday. That caused the unemployment rate for college graduates to dip to 3.2 percent from 3.3 percent in April.
•The odds of finding work are poor for those who have spent no time on campus. They lost jobs last month. The number of high school graduates who were employed fell by 100,000 in May, and their unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent from 6.3 percent.
•An additional 56,000 high school dropouts lost jobs last month, causing this category’s unemployment rate to climb to 9.1 percent from 8.9 percent.