Hiring moves ahead in May

Construction employment falls by 20,000 positions.
a group of people wearing costumes

The U.S. economy gained traction and added 559,000 jobs in May as the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 5.8%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Analysts expected bigger numbers, however, projecting as much as 1 million hires given the opening of the economy following pandemic lockdown conditions. 

The revised April figure shows the economy added 278,000 jobs compared to 266,000 hires as originally reported by the bureau last month.

Employment in retail fell by 6,000 jobs with the industry 411,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.

Construction employment declined by 20,000 jobs in May. The bureau said the latest figure reflects job losses among nonresidential specialty trade contractors, down 17,000. Employment in construction is 225,000 lower than in February 2020.

“Another 7 million jobs are still needed to get us back to pre-pandemic conditions," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. "Construction jobs got a boost of 4,400 from homebuilding but was lower by 2,500 for residential general contractors."

Yun noted that more lumber is needed but there were 1,100 fewer workers in the logging industry. In commercial real estate, there were 500 more jobs in the construction of buildings but a reduction of 16,800 of general contractors. 

Wholesale trade added 20,000 jobs in May while transportation and warehousing increased by 23,000. Manufacturing also added 23,000 jobs last month.

Hospitality and leisure, the industry suffering the biggest job losses during the height of the pandemic, saw employment surge ahead by 292,000.

The full May Employment Situation Report is available here.