The United States added another 559,000 jobs in May, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department—it’s a smaller gain than most experts were expecting but still demonstrates some improvement in the labor market as vaccinations continue, businesses reopen and consumer demand comes roaring back.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs had forecast 750,000 jobs added, while the consensus estimate was 650,000.
The Labor Department said May’s gains came from the leisure and hospitality, public and private education and healthcare and social assistance sectors.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April.
Friday’s data shows that there are now 9.3 million unemployed people in the United States, down from 9.8 million in April.
7.6 million. That’s how many jobs the U.S. has yet to recover of the roughly 22 million that were lost during the pandemic.
Friday’s positive data comes after a disappointing report in April—the U.S. added just 266,000 jobs that month compared to the 1 million economists were expecting, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.1%. But there have been other signs of progress despite the lackluster month. ADP’s private payrolls report released this week showed that U.S. companies hired 978,000 people in May, up from 654,000 in April. Weekly jobless claims, while normally more volatile than monthly data, have been steadily trending downward.
Data released on Thursday by the Labor Department showed that claims had dropped to 385,000—their lowest level since the onset of the pandemic. Despite this improvement, however, the labor market has a long way to go before it makes a full recovery.