U.S. Economy Regains 2.5 Million Jobs in May
Ever since the start of lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis in the United States, it was clear that the nation would be in for some rough jobs reports. Sure enough, the country has seen multiple record-breaking weeks of new jobless claims as well as a major spike to the unemployment rate. While economists had braced for May to be no different, instead, the newest figures show the economy rebounding some last month.
The latest jobs report shows the unemployment rate falling to 13.3% in May. While that’s an improvement from April’s 14.7%, it’s a far cry from the 3.5% seen only a few months earlier. However the figures are far rosier than economists were expecting. According to CNN Business, the going theory was that May would see umemployment reach 20% with the loss of another 8 million jobs.
While the official White House Twitter account bragged that the “2.5 million jobs created in May” amounted to the most ever recorded in a single month, it’s worth remembering that April saw the loss of more than 20 million jobs (following revisions offered in this month’s report). Furthermore the report does not take into account people who didn’t look for work in the past month. It’s also unclear how many of those who returned to work did so with reduced hours.
In a statement released alongside the jobs report, Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner William Beach also warned that some workers had been miscategorized in recent reports, leading to errors in the figures. As he explained, “There continued to be a large number of workers who were classified as employed but absent from work for the entire reference week. As in March and April, special instructions sent to household survey interviewers called for employed people absent from work due to coronavirus-related business closures to be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. However, not all such workers were so classified in May, despite additional training given to household survey interviewers.” He added, “BLS and the Census Bureau continue to investigate this issue, and we’re taking additional steps to address the problem.”
These figures come as many parts of the country have begun phased reopenings, allowing certain non-essential businesses to resume operations with new rules in place. Some of these plans have been controversial as some areas continue to see increased rates of COVID-19 infections. Similarly there are still concerns that a second wave will necessitate another round of lockdowns later this year. With all of that considered, while today’s jobs report has some encouraging aspects, it’s certainly not the return to normalcy so many Americans are waiting for.