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Expert 'optimistic' about economy following latest Labor Bureau report

The U.S. economy added 390,000 new jobs in May, which is more than what many economists expected.

MINNEAPOLIS — The average gas prices in Minnesota hit a new record Friday at $4.50 a gallon.

Inflation also continues to drain Americans’ pockets, but the latest jobs report offers some hope that better days are ahead.

Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 390,000 new jobs were added to the economy in May.

That number was higher than what many economists expected.

“It shows that our economy is doing great,” University of Minnesota economics professor Tim Kehoe said.

Kehoe says many economists expected that number to be lower due to the recent decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to combat rising inflation.

“That jobs report shows that is not happening right now,” Kehoe says.

“I’m more optimistic about the U.S. economy now than I was yesterday.”

The jobs report suggests a lot of business owners are still hiring new employees as they rush to rebuild their staffing levels after the pandemic.

“We still haven’t seen everyone coming back yet. Childcare continues to be an issue, which is why a lot of moms got out of the workforce during the pandemic. Eventually they’re going to have to do something about childcare costs, because that continues to be an issue,” Kehoe says.

The business sectors that saw the biggest gains in May include leisure and hospitality, which added 84,000 jobs, and professional and business services, which added 75,000 new jobs.

Despite these improving numbers, Kehoe says the U.S. economy still has some problems.

Inflation is still high, especially when it comes to gas prices, and if those prices stay high for a long period of time, Kehoe says that could really affect businesses that use a lot of gas.

"It's still out there and it will be slow to come down, especially without some sort of resolution to the war in Ukraine,” Kehoe says.

Between the war in Ukraine, and COVID concerns in China and other countries, Kehoe says there is a lot of uncertainty right now.

That uncertainty could create a lot of ups and downs in the stock market in the months ahead.

"There's all of these sources of uncertainty, and it would be great if we could get those behind us.”

Kehoe is also looking forward to seeing the inflation numbers from May.

He says those numbers will be released next week and they should provide a lot of insight into what the economy might look like in the coming months.

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