The U.S. economy added 559,000 jobs in May 2021, according to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate dropped 0.3% from 6.1% in April to 5.8%. This is the lowest unemployment has been since pandemic-related businesses shutdown in March 2020.
In May, employment is still down by 7.6 million or 5% compared to February 2020, making it difficult for some employers to find applicants for open positions. On a positive note, the leisure and hospitality sector continues to see large gains with 292,000 jobs added as the country continues with vaccinations and most states estimating to fully open during the summer months.
Key Highlights From the Latest BLS Report
- With 9.3 million currently unemployed, the unemployment rate is now at 5.8%, 0.3% lower than the month prior.
- The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher is at 3.2% vs. 3.5% in April.
- Data for May suggest that workers are unwilling to get back in the workforce causing employers struggling to find applicants for open positions.
- Labor force participation rate at 61.6% is 1.7% lower than in February 2020.
- Employment-population ratio, at 58%, is 3.1% below its February 2020 level.
Jobs Added by Industry
- Leisure and Hospitality added 292,000 jobs
- Education added 144,000 jobs
- Healthcare and social assistance added 46,000 jobs
- Manufacturing added 23,000 jobs
- Wholesale trade added 20,000 jobs
- Professional and Business Services added 35,000 jobs
We are seeing the labor market have a slow recovery. Economists predict that labor market recovery will continue to run below its potential until the benefits phase out which is set to be during the fall. An important statistic to note in the May report is the acceleration in wage gains. The average hourly earnings for all employees in the private sector increased by 15 cents to $30.30 in May following an increase of 21 cents in April. The data for the last 2 months suggests that the rising demand for labor linked to the recovery from the pandemic seems to have put an upward pressure on wages.
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