Overall unemployment decreased in May down to 5.8% with the addition of 559,000 workers. Unemployment in April hit 6.1% with just $278,000 new workers, and the construction sector posted a decrease of 10,100 jobs in April. Although unemployment rates improved in May, rates for the construction sector did not. The sector lost 20,000 jobs in May, increasing the unemployment rate to 7.4%, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Non-residential construction lost 21,800 positions in May while residential construction employment increased by 1,900.
Currently, residential construction employment exceeds its level in February 2020, while only 60% of non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April have been recovered. Aggregate construction industry (both residential and non-residential) employment totaled 7.4 million in May.
In May, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 559,000, reported in the Employment Situation Summary. It marks the fifth consecutive gain after a decline of 306,000 jobs in December. The previous two months’ gains were revised higher. The March increase was revised up by 15,000, while the April increase was revised up by 12,000 from 266,000 to 278,000.
The economy lost 22.4 million jobs in March and April of 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first five months of 2021, 2.4 million jobs have been created. Total nonfarm employment in May 2021 is still 7.6 million lower than its February 2020 level.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate declined to 5.8% in May, from 6.1% in April. It was 9.0 percentage points lower than its recent high of 14.8% in April and 2.3 percentage points higher than the rate in February 2020. The May decrease in the unemployment rate reflected the decrease in the number of persons unemployed (-496,000) and the increase in the number of persons employed (444,000). Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 61.6% in May.