The unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a percentage point to 4.3 percent, the lowest since 2001.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, according to the Labor Department.
The government said the job figure was well below the average monthly gain of 181,000 during the prior 12-month period. The number of long-term unemployed (people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged during the month at 1.7 million and they accounted for 24 percent of the unemployed. Revisions also cut disappointing March results even further, from a gain of 79,000 to a gain of only 50,000 jobs. "And prime-age labor force participation has stuck within the same range since last fall, making it harder to argue that slack remains in the labor market". Wage growth, however, has remained weak and the number of people in part-time work has remained high. Data on consumer spending and manufacturing suggest the economy gained speed early in the second quarter after gross domestic product increased at a tepid 1.2 percent annualized rate at the start of the year. More Americans stopped looking for work while the number of people with a job fell too.
Economists have expected wage gains to increase as the job market got tighter, but average hourly earnings increased just four cents in May to $26.22.
The jobs numbers probably clear the path for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates later this month.
Still, the drop in the unemployment rate in May wasn't for good reasons.
Mining added 6,600 jobs in May, with 7,900 jobs added in support activities. Manufacturing payrolls fell by 1,000.
The labor market was largely expected to return to form last month after volatile weather made for sharp gyrations the first five months of the year.
Expectations for a bumper jobs report had mounted after ADP, the US's largest private payroll processor, announced employers had added 253,000 jobs in May - well above the 180,000 economists had been expecting. Other measures - such as jobless claims - reflect a healthy job market.
USA unemployment is low, but it sure took a long time to get there.
That left the year-on-year increase in wages at 2.5 per cent. The average workweek was flat at 34.4 hours.
"The loss of manufacturing jobs in May is a stark reminder of the challenges that face factory workers", Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said in a statement, calling on Trump and Congress to address the United States trade deficit.
Overall, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 138,000 in May.