U.S. Employment Exceeds Estimates in May, Adding 272,000 Jobs Despite Steady Unemployment Rates

In the month of May, US payrolls rose by 272,000, exceeding the expected amount by a significant number, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported. The unexpected rise surpassed all 77 estimates in Bloomberg’s economist survey.

The gain was led by sizable increases from these three categories: health and education, leisure and hospitality and government. The first two categories, in particular, were heavily impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, so their return has shown lots of positivity in those fields. Other industries that contributed to the gain, though not as severely, were manufacturing and construction.

The average monthly growth in the last 12 months has been 232,000, which was surpassed with ease in May. Healthcare also saw a minor rise, adding 68,000 jobs, exceeding the 64,000 monthly average in the past 12 months. Of the 68,000 jobs added in the healthcare industry, roughly 43,000 came from ambulatory health care services, 15,000 from hospitals and 11,000 from nursing and residential care facilities.

Professional and technical services also had a great month in May, adding 32,000 jobs, more than the average of 19,000 in the prior 12 months. The particular jobs within the industry that saw the largest rise were management, scientific and technical consulting services, which added 14,000 jobs and architectural, engineering and related services, which added 10,000.

Despite this promising growth in May, the unemployment rates remained steady, showing little change during the month, at 4 percent. Additionally, the number of unemployed people showed little movement, at 6.6 million. Compared to the position we were in a year prior, it does show some concerning trends, as the unemployment rate was 3.7% and the total number of unemployed people was 6.1 million.

The number of long-term unemployed people, which is those who have been without a job for 27 weeks or longer, also remained unchanged at 1.4 million. Of the entire unemployed population, long-term unemployed people account for nearly a quarter of it.

In regards to pay, the average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 14 cents or 0.4 percent. With the slight increase, the average hourly earnings now sit at $34.91. The average workweek for employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged during the month of May at 34.3 hours.

The Employment Situation for June is set to be released on July 5, 2024.