Report: The BLS Employment Situation — May 2021

In this monthly blog post we’ll report on BLS Employment Situation data as it is released, for these industries: construction, manufacturing (including durable and non-durable goods), retail trade, warehousing and storage, real estate rental and leasing services, professional and business services (including legal services, accounting and bookkeeping services, architectural and engineering services, computer systems design and related services, and scientific research and design services, administrative and support services, and administrative support services – employment services), health care, leisure and hospitality, and government.
You can always find the full Employment Situation report on the BLS website.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 5.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in public and private education, and in health care and social assistance. The number of unemployed persons fell by 496,000 to 9.3 million. These measures are down considerably from their recent highs in April 2020 but remain well above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively, in February 2020).

BLS Summaries by Industry

Construction: Construction employment edged down in May (-20,000), reflecting a job loss in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-17,000). Employment in construction is 225,000 lower than in February 2020.

Manufacturing: Manufacturing employment rose by 23,000 in May. A job gain in motor vehicles and parts (+25,000) followed a loss in April (-38,000). Employment in manufacturing is down by 509,000 from its level in February 2020.

Retail Trade: Employment in retail trade changed little in May (-6,000). Clothing and clothing accessories stores added 11,000 jobs. Employment in food and beverage stores decreased by 26,000, following a decline of 47,000 in April. Employment in retail trade is 411,000 below its February 2020 level.

Warehousing and Storage: N/A

Real Estate Rental and Leasing Services: N/A

Professional and Business Services: Employment in professional and business services changed little in May (+35,000). Within the industry, employment continued to trend up in accounting and bookkeeping services (+14,000). Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month (+4,000), following a large decline in April (-116,000). Overall, employment in professional and business services is down by 708,000 since February 2020.

Health Care: Health care and social assistance added 46,000 jobs in May. Employment in health care continued to trend up (+23,000), reflecting a gain in ambulatory health care services (+22,000). Social assistance added 23,000 jobs over the month, largely in child day care services (+18,000). Compared with February 2020, employment is down by 508,000 in health care and by 257,000 in social assistance.

Leisure and Hospitality: In May, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 292,000, as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in some parts of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and drinking places (+186,000). Employment also rose in amusements, gambling, and recreation (+58,000) and in accommodation (+35,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 2.5 million, or 15.0 percent, from its level in February 2020.

Government: N/A

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