US jobs market rebounds unexpectedly

Jobless rate falls from 14.7% to 13.3%

US employers added 2.5m jobs in May, defying economists’ expectations of further losses and offering hope that the rebound from the pandemic-induced economic crisis could be faster than forecast.  Photograph: iStock

US employers added 2.5m jobs in May, defying economists’ expectations of further losses and offering hope that the rebound from the pandemic-induced economic crisis could be faster than forecast. Photograph: iStock

 

The US jobs market unexpectedly reversed its freefall in May as US employers brought back millions of workers after pandemic-induced layoffs and the unemployment rate declined.

Tens of millions remain out of work, and the unemployment rate, which fell to 13.3 per cent from 14.7 per cent in April, remains higher than in any previous post-war recession.

But employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, the Labor Department said on Friday, defying economists’ expectations of further losses and offering hope that the rebound from the pandemic-induced economic crisis could be faster than forecast.

´However, job openings remain far below normal, and the trillions of dollars in US government assistance that have helped keep the economy on life-support may be nearing their end.

The report noted that “employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade,” even as jobs in the government continued their decline.

“What this is telling us is that at least part of the pain in April was due to people being laid off or furloughed who still had very strong connections to their employers,” said Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI in Washington. “As good and surprising as this report was, this may just be the low-hanging fruit. These may have been the easiest workers to bring back.”

Restaurants and bars, healthcare employers and construction were among the sectors that drove the May job market improvement.

About 1.4 million people gained or took back their restaurant jobs, even as hotels continued to shed workers. About 460,000 were hired or rehired in construction, 370,000 in retail, and 390,000 in healthcare and social assistance. That latter boost came heavily from dentist’s offices, which took back some 245,000 workers. – New York Times Service