The dramatically weak May employment report from the government may be a sign productivity is starting to turn the corner, the former chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers said Friday.
"As I've been saying for months, if productivity goes back to even resembling normal, the jobs numbers are going to deteriorate quite a lot," Austan Goolsbee told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Goolsbee, a University of Chicago professor, called productivity "the wildcard" that may shed light on the terrible job growth number that the U.S. economy created just 38,000 nonfarm payrolls last month. "If you have high productivity growth you don't need to hire anybody to grow."
Economists had expected 164,000 new jobs. The report said the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, a greater-than-expected decline that can be partly explained by a drop in the rate of participation in the labor market. An average hourly earnings gain of 0.2 percent matched estimates.