iHire's Summary of the BLS Jobs Report

The May 2020 Jobs Report: What is the Current US Employment Situation?


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly overview of the US employment situation, and the data for May shows slight improvement from April in the wake of COVID-19 and the efforts to contain it. The labor department jobs report examines a range of US jobs data to gauge the overall health of the US economy, specifically the number of jobs added, the unemployment rate, and what industries are hiring now.


The May jobs report shows positive change in the labor market. Unemployment declined to 13.3% and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.5 million, while the number of unemployed persons declined by 2.1 million to 21.0 million. These improvements are related to a limited resurgence in economy activity.


Unemployment Rate


Number of Unemployed Persons


Nonfarm Payroll Unemployment


Here are some other key statistics from the labor department jobs report:

  • The number of unemployed people on temporary layoff decreased by 2.7 million to 15.3 million.
  • The number of unemployed people who were jobless less than 5 weeks decreased by 10.4 million to 3.9 million (18.5% of the unemployed). Meanwhile, the number of those jobless for 5 to 14 weeks rose by 7.8 million to 14.8 million (70.8% of the unemployed).
  • The labor force participation rate increased by 0.6% to 60.8%.
  • The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (AKA involuntary part-time workers) remained fairly steady at 10.6 million (up 6.3 million since February).
  • Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls fell by $0.29 to $29.75 after increasing by $1.35 in April. This decrease reflects gains among lower-paid workers as the labor market begins to improve.


May brought job gains in many industries hiring in 2020. We saw the greatest employment change in leisure and hospitality with 1.2 million jobs added. Most of these gains came from food services and drinking places, accounting for about half of the gain in total nonfarm employment. We also a saw significant increase in construction and health services as normal activity began to resume. Here are the industries that were affected in May:


Change in Unemployment by Industry


Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests that due to the impact of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it, the economy is still in poor shape despite some improvement. To track employment numbers and the health of the economy, check back for our summary of the BLS June jobs report on July 2, 2020.


iHire is here to help however we can. Whether you’re looking for a job or searching for candidates to fill your talent pipeline (and prepare for hiring in the future), there’s still plenty of opportunity on iHire.

by: Sarah Ballow
June 05, 2020