US Jobs Edging Back to Normalcy as Pandemic Recedes

June 4, 2021 by Victoria Turner
Coleen Piteo, director of marketing at Yours Truly restaurant, puts out a sign for hiring, Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The U.S. employment situation seems to be edging closer to normalcy with the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing a 1.7% decline in teleworking employees. This indicates more people are returning to the office, but it remains uncertain whether it is fully in-person or a hybrid approach. 

Despite the unemployment rate and job losses decreasing significantly in May, the numbers remain 2.3% and 1.1 million higher than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, respectively. 

The unemployment rate dropped by almost half a million people to 5.8% in May, with 9.3 million unemployed individuals, and the long-term unemployed making up 3.8 million of those. That is 2.6 million people more than February 2020, but it is still the lowest it has been during the pandemic. 

However, the 0.3% rate decrease in unemployment alongside the U.S. payroll employment increase by 559,000 in May shows the country is beginning to recover slowly but surely. Even though the latter is still 7.6 million lower than it’s pre-pandemic levels, it more than doubled the 278,000 nonfarm payroll employment in April – an increase of 281,000 jobs.The most notable job spikes were in leisure and hospitality as well as the education and health services industries. The report attributed the increases in both industries to the easing or lifting of pandemic restrictions. 

Leisure and hospitality experienced an increase of 292,000 jobs, mostly in the accommodations and food services subsector making up 220,600 of those jobs. It seems people are going out more now, with food services and drinking places accounting for 186,000 of this spike.

In the 87,000 jobs increase in the education and health services industry, 40,700 were in educational services and 45,800 in healthcare and social assistance. Child day care services seem to make up most of the social assistance job increase with about 18,000 jobs, suggesting even further return to normalcy as their parents return to work.  

Additionally, public and private education sectors experienced a total increase of 144,000 jobs – 103,000 in local and state governments and 41,000 in private education. These public and private education hikes point to the “continued resumption of in-person learning and other school-related activities,” the report stated, but still fall behind their February 2020 levels by over a million jobs. 

Nevertheless, most industries seemed to experience at least moderate increases or else remained practically unchanged since April. The one industry that seemed to experience a bit of an “edge down” was construction employment, a loss of 20,000 jobs. However, the report stated that this “[reflected] a job loss in nonresidential specialty trade contractors” accounting for 17,000 of these job losses. 

To see the full text of the report, click here

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