US unemployment rate drops in May as economy reopens


Unemployment officially fell to 13.3% in May as employers added 2.5 million jobs, the best month for job growth since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data in 1939.

The May jobs report showed an unexpected rise in the number of non-farm payrolls in the economy and a drop in the unemployment rate from April, averting what economists expected would be a rise in the jobless rate to the highest level since the Great Depression amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 15.3 million people on temporary layoff in May, in addition to an estimated 4.9 million people who had temporarily lost their jobs but were counted as employed but "not at work for other reasons".

"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", the Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote in its report. "Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!" he said on Twitter moments after the data were released.

Reality is that that millions of jobs were lost, may have been permanently lost, but there are also a ton of jobs coming back and coming back quickly. In contrast, the jobless rate for whites fell to 12.4 per cent from 14.2 per cent in April. Historically, the white unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate, while black unemployment can be almost twice as high. Adding in workers who have given up and left the labor force, and the unemployment rate could be closer to 20%. Little by little, we saw increases in clients placing job orders with us, candidates expressing interest in hearing about positions and feeling comfortable looking for jobs, even the ones that are working right now.

Employment in May was boosted by restaurants and bars, which added 1.4 million jobs after losing 6 million in April and March.

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Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. "Both the fiscal and monetary authorities will need to follow through on their current respective policy paths to ensure that whatever job gains from the May report that prove durable are not due to complacency by policymakers", he said.

"The country has turned the corner from the pandemic and the recession it created for now, but all the workers who lost their paychecks will find it hard to regain their place in society as many of these jobs are gone forever", said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in NY.

This category is important because it excludes part-timers who can't work as many hours as they'd like because of poor business conditions. "In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade". Small businesses, however, have been continuing to take a big hit over the past month, despite the BLS's rosier jobs report.

The Labor Department's surveys captured the period including the 12th of the month, meaning the May report included the very early stages of reopening in some parts of the USA amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Other evidence has also shown that the job market meltdown triggered by the coronavirus has bottomed out. So, we have now added many more jobs since mid-May.

But Harvard economist Jason Furman noted that the reduction in temporary layoffs was "the easy part of the recovery", and further job gains may come more slowly.