May Job Reports Up at 559,000 but Still Below Expectations

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The U.S. added 559,000 in May and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 5.8% — a sigh of relief following April’s dismal numbers, but still below expectations.

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Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal were expecting 671,000 jobs to be added in May. This follows the addition of 278,000 jobs in April, which came as a major, unexpected disappointment.

“Although today’s jobs report came in lower than many anticipated, there are currently 6,620,000 job ads across the U.S., and recovery will continue in the coming months,” Andrew Hunter, co-founder of  job search engine Adzuna, told GOBankingRates.

“Hiring is at the highest level that we’ve seen in the last four years, however a full recovery is being held back by a shortage in job candidates and their hesitance to get back into the labor force. With federal unemployment benefits due to expire after Labor Day and a handful of states already attempting to coax candidates back by paying for workers’ hiring bonuses, it’s very likely that the recovery will pick up over the next few months,” Hunter added.

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Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and health care and social assistance, according to the Labor Department.

The number of unemployed persons fell by 496,000 to 9.3 million in May.

In terms of sectors, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 292,000, as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in some parts of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and drinking places. Employment also rose in amusements, gambling and recreation and in accommodation. Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 2.5 million, or 15% from its level in February 2020, according to the release.

Employment also increased in public and private education, reflecting the continued resumption of in-person learning and other school-related activities in certain areas of the country.

Hunter said that there will need to be sustained levels of hiring and more workers reentering the workplace in order for the labor market to return to full health in 2021.

“We’re hopeful more opportunities will arise as the economy continues to reopen and rebound. Now is a great time for employers to experiment and see what kinds of benefits and policies will help get workers back.”

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in May for teenagers at 9.6%.

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Minorities continue to be the most affected, with whites at 5.1%, Blacks at 9.1%, Asians at 5.5% and Hispanics at 7.3%.

“As the economy roars back into life, it’s crucial that the opportunities being created now do not just go to the same people who have always had the best access to opportunity,” Sophie Ruddock, VP, GM North America at education tech company Multiverse, told GObankingRates. “Degree requirements have meant that America still faces massive inequalities when it comes to finding and promoting those from unconventional backgrounds. Fortunately, more and more firms are turning to non-traditional routes like apprenticeships to find the next generation of talent.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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