U.S. May Unemployment An Upside Surprise At 13.3%, Improved From April

Total U.S. unemployment reached 13.3% in May, falling from 14.7% the month before in a revesal that stunned pundits, who had expected a further deterioration in the month.

The Labor Department said Friday morning the improvement in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.5 million in May — experts had been expecting job losses of about 8 milllion.

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.

Household survey datat shows the number of unemployed persons fell by 2.1 million to 21 million. The number of unemployed people is up by 9.8 percentage points and 15.2 million, respectively, since February.

Widespread shutdowns caused by the pandemic started in mid-March.In May, the number of unemployed people who were jobless less than 5 weeks decreased by 10.4 million to 3.9 million. or 18.5% of the unemployed. The number of unemployed who were jobless 5 to 14 weeks rose by 7.8 million to 14.8 million, repping 70.8%, or the bulk, of unemployed.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.2 million, increased by 225,000 over the month and represented 5.6% of the unemployed.

In May, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 1.2 million, following massie 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.


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