U.S. payrolls rebound as millions return to work

U.S. payrolls rebounded in May as restaurants and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic began to reopen and millions of people returned to work.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 2.5 million, the biggest one-month gain since at least 1939. The unemployment rate decreased 1.4 points to 13.3 percent, according to the latest Labor Department estimates.

The job gains don’t offset job losses over the previous two months, however, most of them related to closures and stay-at-home orders intended to slow the spread of the virus.

According to revised estimates, payrolls dropped 20.7 million in April and 1.4 million in March. The monthly job loss in April was the largest on record and pushed the jobless rate to its highest level for monthly records going back to 1948.

For May, 15.3 million people were counted among those on temporary layoffs. Permanent job losses increased to 2.3 million.

Another 10.6 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate increased six-tenths of a point to 60.8 percent.

At 1.4 million, more than half the payroll gains occurred at restaurants and other food service and drinking places.

Construction payrolls increased 464,000, while employment rose 424,000 in education and health services, 368,000 in retail trades, 225,000 in manufacturing and 127,000 in professional and business services.

Government payrolls shrank 585,000, with most of the losses in local government. Employment also decreased 38,000 in the information sector and 20,000 in mining.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose a half hour to 34.7 hours. The manufacturing workweek rose eight-tenths of an hour to 38.9 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls fell 29 cents to $29.75. The drop reflected job gains among lower-paid workers that pulled the average down.