When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced its monthly jobs report for April, it was significantly lower than expected, leading to some worries that economic recovery had slowed.
Now, the May number is out, and it’s much improved from the month before, even if it came in below the analyst consensus.
The BLS on Friday morning announced that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May, while the unemployment rate dropping 0.3 points to 5.8 percent. The jobs number for April had been 266,000, although that figure has now been revised to 278,000.
Of the added jobs, more than half, 292,000, were in the leisure and hospitality industries, as pandemic restrictions continued to be lifted.
Per CNBC, the 559,000 figure of jobs added was lower than the consensus estimate of 671,000. The consensus on the unemployment rate had been 5.9 percent.
BLS said that notable employment gains had been found in such sectors as leisure and hospitality, in public and private education, and in health care and social assistance.
The survey also found that 16.6 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the pandemic, down from 18.3 percent in April. Also, among those outside of the labor force in May, 2.5 million people “were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic,” down from 2.8 million the previous month.
What effect did the American Rescue Plan and its $1,400 checks and extended unemployment benefits, have on the latest jobs report?
“Consumers are opening their wallets. In April, they increased their spending after a huge gain in March that had been fueled by the distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks. With more Americans feeling comfortable about staying in hotels and visiting entertainment venues, spending on services jumped,” the AP’s analysis of the report said.
“Service industries, including banking, retail, and shipping, expanded at the fastest pace on record in May. The evidence suggests that consumers have embarked on a long-anticipated shift away from the large goods purchases that many of them had made while hunkered down at home to spending on services, from haircuts to sporting events to vacation trips.”
CNN’s analysis pointed out that the labor market is in uncharted territories.
“The labor market is in a weird spot, showing just how uneven and awkward the recovery is. Even though millions of people remain unemployed or have had to leave the labor force, businesses complain of worker shortages. Companies are raising wages to attract and retain employees.
Many employers have pointed out that they are having trouble finding people to fill jobs, while governments in several states that have announced plans to pull out of the enhanced unemployment program. Those benefits run out in September.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.