Employment Increases by 339,000 in May; Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.7%
May 2023: The Employment Situation
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 339,000 in May, and the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage point to 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, government, health care, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note.
Household Survey Data
The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage point to 3.7 percent in May, and the number of unemployed persons rose by 440,000 to 6.1 million. The unemployment rate has ranged from 3.4 percent to 3.7 percent since March 2022. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (3.3 percent) and Blacks (5.6 percent) rose in May. The jobless rates for adult men (3.5 percent), teenagers (10.3 percent), Whites (3.3 percent), Asians (2.9 percent), and Hispanics (4.0 percent) showed little change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs increased by 318,000 to 3.0 million in May, offsetting a decrease in the previous month. (See table A-11.)
In May, the number of persons jobless less than 5 weeks edged up by 217,000 to 2.1 million, partially offsetting a decrease in the prior month. The number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks increased by 179,000 to 858,000 in May. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.2 million and accounted for 19.8 percent of the total unemployed. (See table A-12.)
The labor force participation rate held at 62.6 percent in May, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.3 percent, was little changed. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 3.7 million, changed little in May. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 5.5 million in May, little different from the prior month. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job. (See table A-1.)
Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force was little changed at 1.5 million in May. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was little changed over the month at 422,000. (See Summary table A.)
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 339,000 in May, in line with the average monthly gain of 341,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job gains occurred in professional and business services, government, health care, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance. (See table B-1.)
In May, professional and business services added 64,000 jobs, following an increase of similar size in April. Employment growth continued in professional, scientific, and technical services, which added 43,000 jobs in May.
Government employment increased by 56,000 in May, compared with the average monthly gain of 42,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment in government is below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 209,000, or 0.9 percent.
Health care added 52,000 jobs in May, similar to the average monthly gain of 50,000 over the prior 12 months. In May, job growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (+24,000), hospitals (+20,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000).
Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in May (+48,000), largely in food services and drinking places (+33,000). Leisure and hospitality had added an average of 77,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. Employment in this industry remains below its February 2020 level by 349,000, or 2.1 percent.
In May, construction added 25,000 jobs, including 11,000 jobs in heavy and civil engineering construction. Over the prior 12 months, construction had added an average of 17,000 jobs per month.
Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 24,000 in May. Transit and ground passenger transportation added 12,000 jobs, offsetting a decrease in the prior month. In May, employment also increased in couriers and messengers (+8,000) and air transportation (+3,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing has shown no clear trend in recent months.
In May, employment in social assistance rose by 22,000, in line with the average monthly gain of 23,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, individual and family services added 17,000 jobs.
Employment was little changed over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; information; financial activities; and other services.
In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $33.44. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.3 percent.
In May, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 13 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $28.75. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours in May. In manufacturing, the average workweek was unchanged at 40.1 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.0 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.8 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up by 52,000, from +165,000 to +217,000, and the change for April was revised up by 41,000, from +253,000 to +294,000. With these revisions, employment in March and April combined is 93,000 higher than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)
The Employment Situation for June is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 7, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).