Unemployment Dips as Economy Adds 2.5 Million Jobs in May, Defying Dire Predictions

The unemployment rate dropped over the past month as the economy added 2.5 million jobs, defying predictions of additional layoffs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment now sits at 13.3 percent, falling from 14.7 percent in April. Many economists had expected the unemployment rate to reach 20 percent or higher.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the unemployment rate fell partly because states have begun to reopen businesses that were shuttered to enforce social distancing measures. Businesses that saw job gains included restaurants, construction, healthcare and retail, while airline and hotel jobs continued to fall.

The job numbers report the largest monthly increase in employment since 1939. It “suggests that the US economy is more resilient than expected,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, told CNBC.

“Barring a second surge of Covid-19, the overall U.S. economy may have turned a corner, as evidenced by the surprise job gains today, even though it still remains to be seen exactly what the new normal will look like,” said Citizens Bank head of global markets Tony Bedikian.

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