May 2023 Employment Summary

  • On June 8, 2023

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College graduates end their careers as students and begin their paths in the professional world, looking for new opportunities noted in the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. Staff Solve strives to assist employers and job seekers with information and process hiring, but the overall economic picture of employment trends in the United States and possible factors involved.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 339,000 in May and the unemployment rate rose by 0.3% to a total of 3.7%. The unemployment rate has ranged from 3.4-3.7% since March 2022. The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs increased by 318,000 to 3.0 million for the month, offsetting a decrease highlighted in April’s data report. The number of persons jobless for less than 5 weeks edged up by 217,000 to 2.1 million, partially offsetting a decrease in the prior month. Those jobless for 15 to 26 weeks increased by 179,000 to 858,000 in May, and those long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) were essentially unchanged at 1.2 million and accounted for 19.8% of the total unemployment rate. 

The labor force participation rate held at 62.6% in May, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.3%, was little changed. Individuals employed part-time for economic reasons changed little for the month, and those who would have preferred full-time employment were working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. The number of people not in the labor force who currently want a job showed little to no change when compared to April’s data. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job. 

Individuals who were marginally attached to the labor force, meaning they wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey, also had little change when compared to the previous report’s data. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was little changed over the month as well. 

In May, job gains occurred in professional and business services, government, health care, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance. Professional and business services added 64,000 jobs, following an increase of a similar size in April. Employment growth continued in professional, scientific, and technical services, which added 43,000 jobs in May. Government employment increased by 56,000, compared with the average monthly gain of 42,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment in government is below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 209,000, or 0.9%.

Health care added 52,000 jobs for the month, similar to the average monthly gain of 50,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (+24,000), hospitals (+20,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000). Leisure and hospitality continued to trend up (+48,000), with changes primarily noted in food services and drinking places (+33,000). Leisure and hospitality had added an average of 77,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. Employment in this industry remains below its February 2020 level by 349,000, or 2.1%. Construction added 25,000 jobs, including 11,000 jobs in heavy and civil engineering construction. Over the prior 12 months, the industry has added an average of 17,000 jobs per month. 

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 24,000, with notable gains in transit and ground passenger transportation by +12,000], offsetting the decrease from April. For the month, employment also increased in couriers and messengers (+8,000) and air transportation (+3,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing has shown no clear trend in recent months. Social assistance rose by 22,000, in line with the average monthly gain of 23,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, individual and family services added 17,000 jobs. 

Industries experience little to no change when compared to their April data including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; information; financial activities; and other services.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents, or 0.3%, to $33.44. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.3%. In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 13 cents, or 0.5 %, to $28.75. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours in May. In manufacturing, the average workweek was unchanged at 40.1 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.0 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.8 hours. 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up by 52,000, from +165,000 to +217,000, and the change for April was revised up by 41,000, from +253,000 to +294,000. With these revisions, employment in March and April combined is 93,000 higher than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.

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