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Employment Blog June 2020

This employment blog is taken from the U S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2.5 million in May, and the unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points to 13.3 percent. These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In May, employment rose in several major industry sectors, with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade. By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply. To put the May employment gain of 2.5 million in context, substantial job losses related to the coronavirus pandemic started in March, as payroll employment declined by 1.4 million, as revised. Job losses deepened considerably in April, as nonfarm employment plummeted by an additional 20.7 million, as revised. At 132.9 million in May, total nonfarm employment is nearly 20 million (or 13 percent) lower than in February, before the pandemic crisis unfolded in many parts of the United States. Furthermore, although unemployment fell in May, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people are up by 9.8 percentage points and 15.2 million, respectively, since February

Taking a closer look at the May payroll data, within the leisure and hospitality industry, food services and drinking places added 1.4 million jobs, after losing 5.4 million jobs in  April and 633,000 jobs in March. In contrast, employment continued to decline in the accommodation industry in May (-148,000) and has fallen by 1.1 million over the past 3 months.

In May, construction employment increased by 464,000, recouping about half of the decline in April (-995,000). Job gains occurred among all the component industries in May. Notable job growth occurred in specialty trade contractors (+325,000), with gains about equally split between the residential and nonresidential components. Construction of buildings added 105,000 jobs.

Employment increased by 424,000 in education and health services in May, after a decrease of 2.6 million in April. Health care employment rose by 312,000, with increases in offices of dentists (+245,000), offices of other health practitioners (+73,000), and offices of physicians (+51,000). Elsewhere in health care, job losses continued in nursing and residential care facilities (-37,000) and in hospitals (-27,000). Employment in social assistance increased by 78,000 over the month, reflecting gains in child day care services (+44,000) and individual and family services (+29,000). Employment in private education rose by 33,000 over the month.

Employment in retail trade rose by 368,000 in May, following a loss of 2.3 million in the prior month. Employment rose in several retail industries in May, including clothing stores (+95,000), automobile dealers (+85,000), general merchandise stores (+84,000), building material and garden supply stores (+56,000), and miscellaneous store retailers (+55,000). By contrast, employment declined in electronics and appliance stores (-95,000); auto parts, accessories, and tire stores (-36,000); and health and personal care stores (-22,000).

In May, employment in the other services industry increased by 272,000, after declining by 1.3 million in April. Two-thirds of the over-the-month job gain occurred in personal and laundry services (+182,000).

Manufacturing employment rose by 225,000 in May, following a decline of 1.3 million in April. The job gains in May were about equally split between the durable and nondurable goods components. Within durable goods, employment increased in motor vehicles and parts (+28,000), fabricated metal products (+25,000), and machinery (+23,000). Within nondurable goods, job gains occurred in plastics and rubber products (+30,000), food manufacturing (+25,000), and printing and related support activities (+16,000).

Professional and business services added 127,000 jobs in May, after losing 2.2 million jobs in April. Just over half of the job gain in May occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+68,000). Additionally, employment increased in temporary help services (+39,000). By contrast, job losses continued in management of companies and enterprises (-22,000) and computer systems design (-13,000).

Over the month, employment in financial activities rose by 33,000, following a decline of 264,000 in April. In May, most of the job gain occurred in real estate and rental and leasing (+24,000).

Wholesale trade employment increased by 21,000 in May, with the nondurable goods component adding 13,000 jobs. Wholesale trade employment declined by 383,000 in April.

Government employment continued to fall over the month, as a decline of 585,000 in May followed a decrease of 963,000 in April. The bulk of the employment declines occurred in local government, which lost 487,000 jobs in May and 797,000 jobs in April. Local government employment declines over the 2 months mainly reflected school closures. Employment in state government was down by 84,000 in May, particularly in state education(-63,000).

Employment in information fell by 38,000 in May. The industry shed 272,000 jobs in April.

Mining also continued to lose jobs in May (-20,000), mostly in support activities for mining (-16,000). Mining employment has declined by 77,000 over the past 3 months.

Employment in transportation and warehousing fell by 19,000 in May, after declining by 553,000 in April. Employment in air transportation fell sharply in May (-50,000), following a loss of 79,000 in the prior month. In May, job gains occurred in couriers and messengers (+12,000) and transit and ground passenger transportation (+10,000).


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