Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Total nonfarm employment in the United States rose by 559,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 5.8 percent in May 2021 as the labor market continued to recover from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the monthly jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The jobs report for May 2021 revealed that the number of unemployed persons fell by 496,000 to 9.3 million, which is down considerably from a recent high of 23.1 million in April 2020 but above the 5.7 million unemployed persons prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. Job gains and losses occurred in the following sectors:
- Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 292,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 2.5 million jobs since February 2020.
- Public and private education employment increased in May 2021. Employment rose by 53,000 jobs in local government education, by 50,000 jobs in state government education, and by 41,000 in private education. However, employment is down 556,000 jobs in local government education, 244,000 jobs in state government education, and 93,000 jobs in private education from February 2020 levels.
- Health care and social assistance employment added 46,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 508,000 jobs since February 2020.
- Professional and business services employment added 35,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 708,000 jobs since February 2020.
- Information employment rose by 29,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 193,000 jobs since February 2020.
- Manufacturing employment rose by 23,000 jobs in May 2021 but is 509,000 jobs lower than in February 2020.
- Transportation and warehousing employment added 23,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 100,000 jobs since February 2020.
- Wholesale trade employment increased by 20,000 jobs in May 2021 but is down by 211,000 jobs since February 2020.
- Retail trade employment lost 6,000 jobs in May 2021 and is 411,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Construction employment lost 20,000 jobs in May 2021 and is 225,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Employment changed little in other major industries such as mining, financial activities, and other services in May 2021.
The jobs report showed the change in employment for March 2021 was revised from 770,000 jobs added to 785,000 jobs added, while April 2021 was revised from 266,000 jobs added to 278,000 jobs added. With these revisions, gains in March 2021 and April 2021 were 27,000 jobs higher than previously reported.
As in previous months, some workers affected by the pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff were instead misclassified as employed but not at work. However, the share of
misclassified responses was highest in the early months of the pandemic and has been lower in recent months.
Since March 2020, the BLS has published an estimate of what the unemployment rate might have been had misclassified workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same approach, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May 2021 would have been 0.3 percentage point higher than reported.
The jobs report is usually released on the first Friday of every month at www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm (PDF). The jobs report for June 2021 will be released on Friday, July 2, 2021. More information about the May 2021 jobs report is at www.bls.gov/covid19/employment-situation-covid19-faq-may-2021.htm.
COVID-19 is a deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of June 4, 2021, there are approximately 172 million global cases and 3.7 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 33 million cases and 596,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
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