U.S. job growth picks up in May; unemployment rate falls to 5.8%

A worker applies a sealant to the surface of a slab at IceStone, a manufacturer of recycled glass countertops and surfaces in New York City.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

U.S. employers boosted hiring in May as the easing pandemic, helped by vaccinations, pulled more people back into the labour force, offering assurance that the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession remained on track.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 5.59 lakh jobs last month, the Labor Department said in its closely watched employment report on Friday.

Data for April was revised slightly higher to show payrolls rising by 2.78 lakh jobs instead of 2.66 lakh as previously reported.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, from 6.1% in April.

April’s initial employment count, which delivered roughly a quarter of the new jobs economists had forecast, led to hand-wringing among some economists and investors that growth was stagnating at a time when inflation was rising.

The improving public health situation and massive fiscal stimulus are supporting the economy.

At least half of the American population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That has allowed authorities across the country to lift virus-related restrictions on businesses. But the reopening of the economy is straining the supply chain.

A worker shortage blamed on childcare complications, generous unemployment checks and lingering fears over COVID-19 sharply restrained hiring.

There are a record 8.1 million job openings.

Millions of workers, mostly women, remain at home as most school districts have not moved to full-time in-person learning.

The expanded benefits will end in early September across the country. That, together with more people vaccinated and schools fully reopening in the fall, is expected to ease the worker scarcity by September.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:45:50 PM |

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