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US health care workers lead May job gains

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News,Business

Health care workers might have received a hiring bump from President Barack Obama's health care law.

Their ranks grew by 54,900 in May, the Labor Department said Friday. That unusual surge helped drive last month's overall job growth of 217,000, even as the unemployment rate remained 6.3 percent.

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said the additional coverage provided through Medicaid and the launch of the new health care law's private insurance exchanges appeared to register in the jobs report.

"The expansion of Medicaid and the increase in those with medical insurance via the new exchanges had already shown up as an increase in consumer spending," Ashworth said. "So it's no surprise to see that expansion now reflected in an increase in employment, too."

Other industries hired last month as well. Restaurants and bars added 31,700 employees. Retailers picked up 12,400. Improving auto sales translated into 10,000 more manufacturing jobs.

And there were signs that companies are making longer-term commitments to employees. Just 6.6 percent of the jobs added last month went to temporary workers, compared with recent averages in excess of 10 percent.

Not every sector of the economy is adding workers. The federal and state governments cut their payrolls, while the movie and music business slashed 9,200 jobs at the start of summer blockbuster season.

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