Yet job opportunities were scarce. The number of unemployed Americans rose by 220,000, the sharpest rise since November 2010. The increase drove the number of unemployed to 12.7 million.
The average work week was shortened to 34.4 hours. It suggested that companies are seeing less consumer demand. The average hourly wage ticked up two cents, to $23.41. It has increased only 1.7 percent in the past year, trailing the rate of inflation.
Businesses are facing a growing threat from Europe's financial crisis, which has worsened in recent weeks. The crisis is driving up borrowing costs for Spain and Italy and spreading to the banking system. Greece could be forced to exit the euro, which could push the region into a sharp recession. That could limit U.S. growth.
"Business sentiment has turned sours," said Ellen Zentner, an economist at Nomura Securities. "Companies are concerned about contagion from Europe."
Zentner said the warm winter accelerated some hiring that normally would have taken place in the spring. The construction industry, one of the most weather-sensitive industries, added jobs in December and January but cut back sharply in April and May.
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