Despite the addition of more than half a million jobs in May, the U.S. unemployment rate still remains well above pre-pandemic levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In May, the U.S. added 559,000 jobs, bringing the nation’s unemployment rate down 0.3% to 5.8%, according to the bureau’s report. During a normal year, this would be a tremendous increase of jobs in a single month. However, this is not a normal year.
According to the report released on Friday, the U.S. unemployment rate still remains well above pre-pandemic levels. Currently, 9.3 million people are still unemployed, while before the pandemic, 5.7 million were unemployed in February 2020. Before the pandemic struck, the unemployment rate hovered around 3.5% as of February 2020.
What’s more, California’s unemployment claims swelled to their worst levels in more than a month last week, according to a federal government report released Thursday. The U.S. Labor Department reported that California workers filed 74,625 claims for unemployment benefits during the week that ended May 29, an increase of 3,750 over the prior week.
This is the highest amount of unemployment claims the state has seen since April 24, when workers filed 78,600 unemployment claims.
While the U.S. still has a long way to go to reach pre-pandemic unemployment levels, the number of persons on temporary layoff declined to 1.8 million in May, down 90% from the recent high of 18 million people in April 2020.
Friday’s report also noted that people are beginning to return to their offices as states begin to lift COVID-19 restrictions. In May, 16.3% of employed persons teleworked due to the pandemic, down from 18.3% in the prior month.
Jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry also increased in May, with an employment uptick of about 292,000 jobs. The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and still remains down 2.5 million jobs compared to its level in February 2020.
Employment also increased in public and private education during the month of May, with an increase of 53,000 jobs in local government education, 50,000 in state government education and 41,000 in private education. The report attributes these increases to the resumption of in-person schooling in some parts of the country.
Despite these increases, local government education is down 556,000 jobs, state government education has decreased by 244,000 jobs and private education is down 293,000 jobs compared to February 2020.