Payroll Employment Rises by 390,000 in May; Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.6%
In May, the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the third month in a row, and the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.0 million. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers remained at 1.4 million in May. The number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed at 810,000. Both measures are little different from their values in February 2020. In May, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) edged down to 1.4 million. This measure is 235,000 higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 23.2 percent of all unemployed persons in May. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.3 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, were little changed over the month. Both measures are 1.1 percentage points below their February 2020 values.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 295,000 to 4.3 million in May, reflecting an increase in the number of persons whose hours were cut due to slack work or business conditions. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons is little different from its February 2020 level. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was little changed at 5.7 million in May. This measure remains above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.
Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.5 million, changed little in May. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 415,000 in May, also little changed from the prior month.
- Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 390,000 in May. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business service, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in retail trade declined over the month. Nonfarm employment is down by 822,000, or 0.5 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
- Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 84,000 in May, as job growth continued in food services and drinking places (+46,000) and accommodation (+21,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.3 million, or 7.9 percent, compared with February 2020.
- Employment in professional and business services rose by 75,000 in May. Within the industry, job gains occurred in accounting and bookkeeping services (+16,000), computer systems design and related services (+13,000), and scientific research and development services (+6,000). Employment in professional and business services is 821,000 higher than in February 2020.
- In May, transportation and warehousing added 47,000 jobs. Employment rose in warehousing and storage (+18,000), truck transportation (+13,000), and air transportation (+6,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing is 709,000 above its February 2020 level.
- Employment in construction increased by 36,000 in May, following no change in April. In May, job gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+17,000) and heavy and civil engineering construction (+11,000). Construction employment is 40,000 higher than in February 2020.
- In May, employment increased by 36,000 in state government education and by 33,000 in private education. Employment changed little in local government education (+14,000). Compared with February 2020, employment in state government education is up by 27,000, while employment in private education has essentially recovered. Employment in local government education is down by 308,000, or 3.8 percent, compared with February 2020.
- Employment in health care rose by 28,000 in May, including a gain in hospitals (+16,000). Employment in health care overall is 223,000, or 1.3 percent, lower than in February 2020.
- Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in May (+18,000). Job gains occurred in fabricated metal products (+7,000), wood products (+4,000), and electronic instruments (+3,000). Employment in manufacturing overall is slightly below (-17,000 or -0.1 percent) its February 2020 level.
- Wholesale trade added 14,000 jobs in May, including gains in durable goods (+10,000) and electronic markets and agents and brokers (+6,000). Employment in wholesale trade is down by 41,000, or 0.7 percent, compared with February 2020.
- Mining employment increased by 6,000 in May and is 80,000 higher than a recent low in February 2021.
- Employment in retail trade declined by 61,000 in May but is 159,000 above its February 2020 level. Over the month, job losses occurred in general merchandise stores (-33,000), clothing and clothing accessories stores (-9,000), food and beverage stores (-8,000), building material and garden supply stores (-7,000), and health and personal care stores (-5,000).
- In May, employment showed little change in other major industries, including information, financial activities, and other services.
Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics, THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — May 2022