The American economy generated 559,000 jobs in May, showing a rebound over the timid growth in the labor force during April, when only 226,000 new jobs were created, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite the growth in hiring, the figure still falls short of the 679,000 jobs that economists expected to emerge during May, and even more short of the 1 million new jobs per month required to recover this year’s pre-pandemic unemployment rate.
Unemployment fell by 0.3%, bringing the rate to 5.8%. Currently, about 9.3 million Americans remain unemployed.
The groups that remain affected by unemployment are the teenage population facing rates as high as 9.6%, followed by the black and Hispanic population facing unemployment rates of 9.1% and 7.3%, respectively.
The white population faces unemployment rates of 5.1%, while the Asian population has an unemployment rate of 5.5%. At present, unemployment is more pronounced among men (5.9%) than among women (5.4%).
Unfortunately, labor participation — which is the number of people either employed or actively looking for a job — still only covers 61.6% of the working-age population and this figure has changed little since June 2020 when the economy was still being hit hard by the restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19. The United States, to date, has been unable to regain its pre-pandemic labor participation rate which stood at 63.4%.
Some states have begun to lift unemployment benefits, arguing that they contribute to the slow job recovery seen in the country, where there are up to more than six million unfilled job openings. Lawmakers from both parties are also considering redirecting the pandemic emergency budget to programs that encourage hiring and job acquisition.
Job growth in May: Who’s hiring?
In the face of tepid job growth during April, the Biden-Harris administration said that job growth should pick up for the summer, and indeed, with the arrival of the new season, hiring has escalated.
However, a portion of these jobs could be cyclical, as about one-third of the new hires are bartenders and waiters. Overall, there are about 186,000 people hired for this work. Almost half of the new jobs are demanded by accommodation, entertainment and hospitality services with around 292,000 new hires including waiters and bartenders.
The education sector was the second largest employer after the leisure and entertainment sector, generating around 53,000 new positions in local institutions. 50,000 in state institutions and 41,000 in private educational institutions. The education sector — in both public and private institutions — still needs to generate just over one million jobs to reach its pre-pandemic levels.
The health sector created 46,000 new jobs, while the information sector added 29,000. Manufacturing had a more timid recovery with only 23,000 new jobs during the month of May but still remains at 509,000 jobs relative to its pre-Covid emergency levels.
The transportation and warehousing sector created around 23,000 jobs, while wholesale trade grew by 20,000. The business and professional services sector grew by 35,000 jobs.
Despite the housing shortage facing the U.S., the construction sector saw layoffs increase, leaving 20,000 fewer jobs than in April. The construction sector still needs to generate more than 225,000 jobs to reach February 2020 levels.
Finally, the retail sector left a net 6,000 fewer jobs, many ordinary stores have seen their sales decline sharply with the rise of online commerce that had an accelerated expansion during the pandemic and concentrated sales in a few online retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart.