The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 559,000 in May 2021. The consensus estimates for May had been for a gain of 675,000. Revisions did little to improve the disappointing April 2021 gain of 278,000. Recent monthly job increases have been disappointing for this point in the recovery. Indeed, despite the increase, job levels remain 7.6 million below the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.
The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 266,000 in April. This was a sharp slowdown from the downwardly revised gain of 770,000 in March, originally reported as 916,000. The consensus estimates for April had been for a gain of 1,000,000. Despite the April increase, job levels remain 8.2 million below the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.
The first Friday of the month at 8:30 ET is widely anticipated as the Labor Department presents a fresh gauge of the most recent economic performance in its release of the labor report for the prior month. Today’s number was even more closely watched since it indicates how quickly the economy is bouncing back from the year-long pandemic. In its release, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 in March and that the unemployment rate edged lower to 6.0% from 6.2% in February. The jobless rate remains 2.5 percentage points above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% seen in February 2020, but well below the 14.7% peak seen in April. Despite the February increase, job levels are 8.4 million (5.5%) below the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020. The consensus estimates for February had been for a gain of 660,000. Private service-producing jobs increased by 780,000, led by a rise of 280,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality payrolls as pandemic-related restrictions began to be relaxed and restaurants re-openings occurred. The resumption of in-person learning translated into a combined 190,000 increase in state, local government, and private education employment. Health care added 11,500 jobs in March. Within healthcare, nursing care facilities gained 1,700 jobs in March.
On March 10, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill aimed at helping the country recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On March 11, President Biden signed the bill into law.