Home Global HR Practices U.S. employment growth continues in May with 272,000 jobs added, unemployment rate holds steady at 4%

U.S. employment growth continues in May with 272,000 jobs added, unemployment rate holds steady at 4%

by HR News Canada
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a robust increase in total nonfarm payroll employment for May, with 272,000 jobs added, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.0 percent. This marks a continuation of employment growth across several key industries, notably health care, government, leisure and hospitality, and professional, scientific, and technical services.

Unemployment and workforce data

In May, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.0 percent, with 6.6 million people unemployed. This represents a slight increase from the previous year when the jobless rate was 3.7 percent, and the number of unemployed individuals stood at 6.1 million.

Among major worker demographics, the unemployment rates showed little variation: adult men at 3.8 percent, adult women at 3.4 percent, teenagers at 12.3 percent, Whites at 3.5 percent, Blacks at 6.1 percent, Asians at 3.1 percent, and Hispanics at 5.0 percent.

CategoryApril 2024May 2024Change
Total Unemployment Rate3.9%4.0%+0.1%
Adult Men (20+ years)3.6%3.8%+0.2%
Adult Women (20+ years)3.5%3.4%-0.1%
Teenagers (16-19 years)11.7%12.3%+0.6%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) remained unchanged at 1.4 million, making up 20.7 percent of all unemployed individuals. Similarly, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio held steady at 62.5 percent and 60.1 percent, respectively.

There was also little change in the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons, which stood at 4.4 million. Additionally, 5.7 million people not in the labor force expressed a desire for employment but were not actively seeking work or were unavailable for employment during the survey period. Among these, 1.5 million were marginally attached to the labor force, and the number of discouraged workers slightly increased to 462,000.

Industry employment trends

May saw significant job gains across several industries. Health care added 68,000 jobs, with growth noted in ambulatory health care services (+43,000), hospitals (+15,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+11,000). Government employment continued to rise, adding 43,000 jobs, in line with the average monthly growth over the past year.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 42,000 jobs, reflecting ongoing recovery and growth. Within this sector, food services and drinking places saw an increase of 25,000 jobs. Professional, scientific, and technical services added 32,000 jobs, a notable increase compared to the average monthly gain of 19,000 over the past year. Employment within this sector grew particularly in management, scientific, and technical consulting services (+14,000), and architectural, engineering, and related services (+10,000).

Social assistance employment increased by 15,000, mainly driven by gains in individual and family services (+11,000). Retail trade also saw a modest increase of 13,000 jobs, with notable gains in building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+12,000), despite job losses in department stores (-5,000) and furniture and home furnishings retailers (-4,000).

Other major industries, including mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and other services, experienced little to no change in employment levels for May.

Earnings and workweek data

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 14 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $34.91. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 4.1 percent. For private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, average hourly earnings increased by 14 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $29.99.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained steady at 34.3 hours in May. The manufacturing sector saw an unchanged average workweek of 40.1 hours, with overtime edging up to 3.0 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees increased slightly by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.

Revisions to previous data

Revisions to the employment data for March and April resulted in a combined downward adjustment of 15,000 jobs. The revised figures show an increase of 310,000 jobs in March (down by 5,000) and 165,000 jobs in April (down by 10,000).

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