U.S. Economy Adds 390,000 Jobs in May 2022
In early 2020, the United States economy lost more than 22 million jobs. Now, just over two years later, the deficit has been chipped down to fewer than one million jobs. This milestone comes as the economy faces new headwinds, yet continues to see job gains.
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the United States economy added 390,000 jobs during the month of May. Despite amounting to the fewest jobs added in the past 13 months, the figure did exceed economist expectations. Additionally, April jobs numbers were revised upward, now reported as 436,000 compared to the initial 428,000. In total, the U.S. is now 822,000 jobs shy of a February 2022 high. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6% and the “participation rate” ticked up from 62.2% to 62.3%.
As for wages, the results were a bit of a mixed bag for workers. On the plus side, hourly wages rose by 10¢ (0.3%) in May, with an average wage of $31.95. However, while year-over-year growth now sits at 5.2%, that’s down from the 5.5% YOY gains observed in April. Also notable is that this 5.2% increase comes as inflation (as measured by the BLS’s Consumer Price Index) has exceeded 8%. Nevertheless, Marketwatch notes that this level of wage growth is the highest seen since the early 1980s.
Commenting on the latest report, Indeed Hiring Lab’s director of research Nick Bunker stated, “The U.S. labor market keeps barreling along. Despite concerns about a slowing economy, employers continue to add jobs at a torrid pace. The labor market will eventually slow down, but for now it’s still humming.”
As for what the figures mean for the economy at large, Comerica Bank chief economist Bill Adams explained, “Another month of solid job growth in May is further evidence that the U.S. economy was not in a recession in the spring. Americans continue to return to the labor force as the rising cost of living pressures household finances.”
With these latest gains, the U.S. draws even closer to regaining all of the jobs lost at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the economy is currently walking a tightrope as it tries to balance inflation while staving off a recession. Luckily, May’s figures suggest it’s been able to do just that. Of course, there’s still plenty of uncertainty ahead, leaving economists and workers to continue taking things one day (or month) at a time.