NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The jobs report was about as chalk as chalk gets.
The economy's 217,000 job gain was within 4,000 of consensus estimates, as reported by Econoday. Details such as the 34.5-hour average workweek and the 0.2% gain in average hourly wages were exactly what people predicted.
But the widely forecasted jump in the unemployment rate didn't happen. It stayed at 6.3%, because the work force participation rate remained 62.8% of people older than 16. That's bumping along at 35-year lows, as the number of Baby Boomers retiring continues to allow relatively modest jobs growth to keep the unemployment rate relatively low.
The report is mixed enough to mean that the Federal Reserve will stay its dovish course. Policymakers are looking for better increases in wages before they decide they need to make any tightening moves that matter. Raising interest rates is still a late-2015 question, if it even arises then.
But the report is strong enough that it's still plausible to see the unemployment rate drop to less than 6% by this fall.
With unemployment this high, it's still too soon for the economy to look for a Goldilocks jobs report -- not too hot is still not hot enough. That said, here are some things to love -- and to be wary of -- in the data.
People are coming back to work, without pushing unemployment higher.
About 237,000 unemployed people actually did re-enter the work force in May. Yes, that offset a big decline in April, but it's a good sign. One thing to remember, though, is that all those people came back and the participation rate didn't budge. That's a clear sign that demographics are driving the participation rate lower, in a way that means the unemployment rate will continue to fall.