iHire's Summary of the BLS Jobs Report

The May 2021 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 has improved since April as more people are vaccinated, businesses are reopening, and economic activity continues to resume. 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, as anticipated, an improvement in the labor market. The unemployment rate decreased to 5.8% and total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 559,000 (following a lower-than-expected boost of 266,000 in April), while the number of unemployed persons fell to 9.3 million (compared to 5.8 million in February 2020).


Unemployment Rate


Number of Unemployed Persons


Change in Nonfarm Payroll Employment


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

  • The number of people on temporary layoff declined by 291,000 to 1.8 million. This is down from 18.0 million in April 2020.
  • 7.9 million people were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. This number has decreased by 1.5 million since April.
  • 2.5 million people who were not in the labor force in May were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic. This number has decreased from 2.8 million in April.

May brought job gains for sectors including leisure and hospitality (mostly from restaurants and bars), education (as in-person learning resumes), and healthcare and social assistance (ambulatory health services and child day care). Here’s how industries were impacted in May:


Change in Employment by Industry


Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests that the economy is showing improvement as the vaccination efforts are underway and states are resuming economic activity across the country. However, it’s a long road to economic recovery. For a look at how the labor market has fared over the first quarter of 2021, check out our Quarterly Job Industry Report – Q1 2021.

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By Sarah Ballow | June 04, 2021