BLS Releases May 2020 Employment Situation (June 2020)
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.5 million in May, and the unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade. By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply.
The unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points to 13.3 percent in May, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 2.1 million to 21.0 million. Reflecting the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons are up by 9.8 percentage points and 15.2 million, respectively, since February.
In May, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 1.2 million, following losses of 7.5 million in April and 743,000 in March. Over the month, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 1.4 million, accounting for about half of the gain in total nonfarm employment. May’s gain in food services and drinking places followed steep declines in April and March (-6.1 million combined). In contrast, employment in the accommodation industry fell in May (-148,000) and has declined by 1.1 million since February.
Construction employment increased by 464,000 in May, gaining back almost half of April’s decline (-995,000). Much of the gain occurred in specialty trade contractors (+325,000), with growth about equally split between the residential and nonresidential components. Job gains also occurred in construction of buildings (+105,000), largely in residential building. Employment increased by 424,000 in education and health services in May, after a decrease of 2.6 million in April. Health care employment increased by 312,000 over the month, with gains in offices of dentists (+245,000), offices of other health practitioners (+73,000), and offices of physicians (+51,000). Elsewhere in health care, job losses continued in nursing and residential care facilities (-37,000) and hospitals (-27,000). Employment increased in the social assistance industry (+78,000), reflecting increases in child day care services (+44,000) and individual and family services (+29,000). Employment in private education rose by 33,000 over the month.
In May, employment in retail trade rose by 368,000, after a loss of 2.3 million in April. Over-the-month job gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+95,000), automobile dealers (+85,000), and general merchandise stores (+84,000). By contrast, job losses continued in electronics and appliance stores (-95,000) and in auto parts, accessories, and tire stores (-36,000). Employment increased in the other services industry in May (+272,000), following a decline of 1.3 million in April. About two-thirds of the May increase occurred in personal and laundry services (+182,000). In May, manufacturing employment rose by 225,000, with gains about evenly split between the durable and nondurable goods components. In April, manufacturing employment declined by 1.3 million, with about two-thirds of the loss occurring in the durable goods component. Within durable goods, employment gains in May were led by motor vehicles and parts (+28,000), fabricated metal products (+25,000), and machinery (+23,000). Within nondurable goods, job gains occurred in plastics and rubber products (+30,000) and food manufacturing (+25,000).
Professional and business services added 127,000 jobs in May, after shedding 2.2 million jobs in April. Over the month, employment rose in services to buildings and dwellings (+68,000) and temporary help services (+39,000), while employment declined in management of companies and enterprises (-22,000). Financial activities added 33,000 jobs over the month, following a loss of 264,000 jobs in April. In May, employment gains occurred in real estate and rental and leasing (+24,000) and in credit intermediation and related activities (+7,000). Wholesale trade employment was up by 21,000 in May, largely reflecting job gains in its nondurable goods component (+13,000). In April, wholesale trade employment declined by 383,000. In May, employment continued to decline in government (-585,000), following a drop of 963,000 in April. Employment in local government was down by 487,000 in May. Local government education accounted for almost two-thirds of the decrease (-310,000), reflecting school closures. Employment also continued to decline in state government (-84,000), particularly in state education (-63,000). Employment in information fell by 38,000 in May, following a decline of 272,000 in April. Mining continued to lose jobs in May (-20,000), with most of the decline occurring in support activities for mining (-16,000). Mining employment has declined by 77,000 over the past 3 months. Employment in transportation and warehousing decreased in May (-19,000), after an April decline of 553,000. Air transportation lost 50,000 jobs over the month, following a loss of 79,000 jobs in April. In May, employment rose by 12,000 in couriers and messengers and 10,000 in transit and ground passenger transportation.
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 29 cents to $29.75, following a gain of $1.35 in April. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees decreased by 14 cents to $25.00 in May. The decreases in average hourly earnings largely reflect job gains among lower-paid workers; this change put downward pressure on the average hourly earnings estimates.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.5 hour to 34.7 hours in May. In manufacturing, the workweek rose by 0.8 hour to 38.9 hours, and overtime increased by 0.3 hour to 2.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.6 hour to 34.1 hours. While employees in most industries saw an increase in their workweeks in May, the employment changes, especially in industries with shorter workweeks, complicate monthly comparisons of the average weekly hours estimates.
The full BLS press release on the May 2020 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for June 2020 is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 2, 2020. PDF