'Hiring slowed sharply in May, as companies in industries hardest hit by Donald Trump's escalating trade war hesitated to bring on new employees.
The US economy added 75,000 jobs last month, a significant pullback from 224,000 jobs added in April, the Labour Department reported on Friday. The slow growth was the biggest red flag yet that the economy is under strain.
The unemployment rate remained at a five-decade low of 3.6 per cent, but wage growth disappointed, another sign of fading momentum.
Manufacturing and construction saw particularly anaemic job growth in May, one of the clearest signs that Mr Trump's tariffs are having a negative impact on blue-collar sectors the president has been trying to boost.
"The slowdown is really coming from the sectors that are most susceptible to trade tensions like manufacturing, construction, mining and logging. That does make me worried," said Martha Gimbel, research director for Indeed.com's Hiring Lab.
The hiring fizzle comes as Mr Trump has faced off in trade negotiations with some of the country's largest trading partners. The president announced late on Friday that he is suspending a plan to put a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican exports after his administration struck a deal with Mexico to stem illegal migration.
Still, Mr Trump is bargaining with the Chinese over a trade deal that would lift big tariffs each country has imposed on the other. Mr Trump is set to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping at the end of the month to finalise those negotiations. And other trade fights loom.
The lacklustre hiring report is not the only piece of data suggesting alarm about the economy. Earlier this week, the ISM Manufacturing Index fell to the lowest level of Mr Trump's presidency, another warning sign about the strength of the factory sector.'
Read more: Trump trade war hits jobs as hiring slows sharply at companies hurt hardest by tariffs
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