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Hospitality Sector Continues to Lead Jobs Gains in May as 559,000 New Positions Added

  • May jobs report shows a net gain of 559,000 jobs, falling below expectations but a considerable gain from a disappointing April tally
  • Figures reflect easing COVID-19 restrictions as well as pressures on employers to raise wages
  • Leisure and hospitality sector continues to show the strongest growth, with 292,000 net positions added

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The United States economy had a net gain of 559,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this marked an improvement from April’s disappointing report, the tally still fell short of expectations.

The leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and health care and social assistance sectors led the month’s gains. The BLS attributed these trends in part to an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including the reopening of restaurants and a resumption of in-person learning.

Job totals remained below pre-pandemic levels in each sector, and the U.S. has 7.6 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic, a 5 percent drop. However, May’s gains helped bump the unemployment rate down 0.3 points to 5.8 percent, with the total number of people classified as unemployed falling by 496,000 to 9.3 million.

  • The leisure and hospitality sector added 292,000 positions, including 186,000 at food and drink establishments; the sector still lacks 2.5 million jobs, or a 15 percent decrease, compared to pre-pandemic levels
  • There were 53,000 jobs added in local government education, 50,000 in state government education, and 41,000 in private education
  • Other gains included 46,000 new jobs in health care and social assistance, 35,000 in business and professional services, 29,000 in information, 23,000 in manufacturing, 23,000 in transportation and warehousing, and 20,000 in wholesale trade
  • The construction sector was down 20,000 jobs, while the retail sector shed 6,000 positions
  • The overall tally fell short of expectations that 675,000 jobs would be added, and followed upwardly revised figures showing 278,000 new jobs in April and 785,000 in March
  • Average hourly earnings increased 15 cents in both April and May to stand at $30.33, reflecting pressures on companies to raise wages in a bid to attract workers
  • Teenagers have been taking advantage of available job opportunities, with their unemployment rate plunging 9.6 percent

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