Despite initial projections, the U.S. economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, seeing unemployment decline from the 14.7% reported in April down to 13.3%. These figures come courtesy of The Bureau of Labor Statistics report published early Friday.
From the report:
“These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade. By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply.”
The findings were derived from two monthly surveys.
The first is a household survey that measures various labor force statuses. The second is an establishment survey that assesses non-farm employment, hours and earnings by industry.
According to the data, the national unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points to 13.3 percent in May, and the number of unemployed individuals dropped by 2.1 million to 21.0 million in that same window.
The number of unemployed individuals who were on temporary layoff decreased by 2.7 million to 15.3 million, following a subsequent increase of 16.2 million in April. Of those not on temporary layoff, the number of permanent job losers continued to rise from roughly 295,000 in May to 2.3 million.
Professional and business services added 127,000 jobs last month, after losing 2.2 million jobs in April, while financial organizations added 33,000 jobs over the month, following a loss of 264,000 jobs in April.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined the most dramatically for adult men (11.6 percent), adult women (13.9 percent), Whites (12.4 percent), and Hispanics (17.6 percent).
However, the report indicated very little change in jobless rates for teenagers (29.9 percent), Blacks (16.8 percent), and Asians (15.0 percent).
“In May, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks decreased by 10.4 million to 3.9 million. These individuals made up 18.5 percent of the unemployed. The number of unemployed persons who were jobless 5 to 14 weeks rose by 7.8 million to 14.8 million, accounting for about 70.8 percent of the unemployed,” the authors continued. “The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.2 million, increased by 225,000 over the month and represented 5.6 percent of the unemployed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has already reacted to The Bureau of Labor Statistics release; rising by nearly 800 points in premarket activity. As of the time of this writing it’s hovering around 27,000.
“The prospect of unemployment benefit enhancements ending may encourage more individuals to return to work,” Moody’s investors service reported earlier today. “There is a risk, however, that as the PPP stimulus measures run their course, unless they are renewed or economic momentum has gained significant steam, the pace of rehiring will slow or could even reverse.”
CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org