The coronavirus pandemic sparked one of the deepest, and strangest, downturns in employment in US history. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the US had added another 559,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.8% – a dramatic drop from its 14.8% high in April last year.

Employers say they are struggling to hire workers, and yet the US is still 7.6m jobs short of where it was before Covid-19 struck. Below, in the first of a monthly series, we take a look at what lies behind the headline figures for the highly influential jobs report.

Overall unemployment in the US

The nature of the pandemic has highlighted structural inequities in the economy that are reflected in the monthly report. Black and Hispanic workers, for example, suffered the most during the recession, and are still struggling even as other parts of the economy recover.

Race and gender groups that are recovering quickly

Race and gender groups that are recovering slowly

Younger Americans have also experienced greater incidence of joblessness this May: though unemployment hovered at 4.9% for those 45 and over, it was 5.8 and 10.1% for people between the ages of 25-34 and 20-24, respectively. Those rates have been slow to drop to pre-pandemic levels.

Unemployment rates by age

The effects of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic were most dramatic for people with lower levels of educational attainment. One-fifth of all those with less than a high school diploma (including younger people) were unemployed last April, and many have not been re-employed.

READ  An epidemic-themed game that shot to the top of the charts has been removed from Apple's App Store in China

Unemployment rates by educational attainment

Many industries also continue to report high levels of unemployment. As has been widely reported, the leisure and hospitality industry was among the most affected. Last April, the shutdown of restaurants, bars and other nightlife brought unemployment to a whopping 39.3%, dropping to 10.1% last month. Other industries that continue to see elevated rates include mining and construction.

Agriculture, which saw seasonal changes in unemployment, is the only group to report a better unemployment rate now (8.2%) than before the lockdowns last year.

Industries that are recovering quickly

Industries that are recovering slowly

Americans have yet to experience a full economic recovery, and companies continue to struggle to hire. While some lawmakers have pointed to the possibility of a labor shortage, progressive members of the House of Representatives have emphasized the importance of a more reasonable living wage.

Joe Biden, in his response to the jobs report, spoke with optimism about the continued the success of the American Rescue Plan, and his plans for the future.

“Now is the time to build on the foundation we’ve laid, because while our progress is undeniable, it is not assured. That’s why I’ve proposed the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Planfor generational investments,” Biden said.

The first of those proposals has a marked emphasis on infrastructure, while the latter focuses on education and direct support to families.

READ  Covid-19 will only increase automation anxiety

“We need to make those investments today to be able to continue to succeed tomorrow,” he said.

What this means for the future of work, given the unraveling of norms prompted by the pandemic, remains to be seen.





READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here