Job Growth Surges as Businesses Begin to Reopen in May; unemployment Rate Reverses Direction

JOB GROWTH: As lockdown restrictions due to the coronavirus began to lift and businesses started to reopen across America in May, 2.5 million people returned to work.

TOP INDUSTRIES: With recent job losses especially deep in the leisure and hospitality sector, that is one of the areas seeing the early momentum of returning jobs, along with construction, education/health services and retail trade.

UNEMPLOYMENT: After the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% in April, May job growth helped reverse that negative trend, lowering the rate to 13.3%.

WAGES: Downward pressure on average hourly earnings led to a decrease of 29 cents in May, after an increase the previous month. Just as that increase in average hourly wages was less about a pay bump and more about the loss of so many lower-wage jobs, May’s decrease can be linked to job gains among lower-paid workers. 

WORK WEEK: The work week increased by half an hour in May, raising average hours to 34.7.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: The temporary help sector rebounded somewhat with an increase of 39,100 jobs in May.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? As quickly as the economy shut down due to the pandemic, it may be coming back. The latest jobs report reflects a surge of hiring activity, with a record 2.5 million people returning to work in a single month. Amid this good news, unemployment remains incredibly high as millions more await callbacks. For the smoothest transition from “temporarily closed” to “open for business,” employers should keep the lines of communication open with former team members. Turn to people you know first to ensure the most efficient hiring process. Don’t be surprised, however, if not everyone is anxious to return to the jobs they left. Some will look for new opportunities; others will opt to freelance; still others will work at multiple jobs to meet their financial goals. All of these changing expectations will serve to reshape the employment landscape, giving rise to new approaches to recruiting, engaging and retaining the best talent.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNN, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, The New York Times, Bloomberg, USA Today, FOX News, Washington Post, Associated Press