Economy adds jobs for 5th straight month but not as many as hoped
The May jobs report wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. While economists had predicted an addition of 671,000 jobs, the U.S. economy added 559,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.85 from 6.1%, slightly better than expected. While it didn’t meet expectations, May was a marked improvement over a disappointing April.
It did mark a fifth straight month of job additions, a sign that the economy is slowly but surely recovering. It just might not be as quick a bounce-back as hoped. The overall jobs total is still 7 million less than pre-pandemic levels. The labor force participation rate changed only slightly, dipping from 61.7% to 61.6%.
Some of the hardest hit areas of the economy, leisure and hospitality, saw the biggest gains — nearly 300,000 jobs — ahead of a much-anticipated summer travel season. After a congressional act made it possible for Alaska to have an abbreviated cruise season, the state is offering free vaccines to visitors in hopes of attracting tourists, who form a major source of revenue in Alaska.
Odd supply chain hiccups and price hikes that mirror the sudden demand drops of last March make it clear this is not the standard recovery we’ve seen in recessions past. Rather than an underlying economic problem, it was an external health force that sent the economy into a tailspin. This prompted optimism that vaccines would cause an immediate return to the pre-pandemic economy, but different sectors are recovering at different speeds.
“Adding over a half-million jobs in one month is a solid pace of growth, but we will need to keep up this tempo for quite some time to get back to a semblance of the pre-pandemic labor market,” Indeed economic research director Nick Bunker told Business Insider.
While there are many positive signs of the pandemic receding, there is still some fear as nearly half the U.S. population is unvaccinated, and securing childcare remains an issue for some seeking a return to the workforce.