Unemployment Rate Stands at 3.7 Percent

June 2, 2023 – Employment rose by 339,000 in May as the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 3.7 percent, according to today’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of unemployed persons is 6.1 million in May. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, government, healthcare, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance.

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. 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.

In May, the number of persons jobless less than five 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.

“The U.S. labor market continues to demonstrate grit amid chaos – from inflation to high-profile layoffs and rising gas prices,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president and chief commercial officer of Manpower Group. “With 339,000 job openings, we’re still rewriting the rule book and the U.S. labor market continues to defy historical definitions.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

• 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.

• Healthcare 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 healthcare 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.

Related: Executive Hiring Predictions for 2023

• 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.

Hiring Outlook 

While recessionary concerns and layoffs continue to make headlines, the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of nearly 39,000 employers in 41 countries and territories finds their appetite for hiring continues in the second quarter of 2023. The optimism remains despite organizations struggling to activate their hiring plans with global talent shortages reaching 77 percent, a 17-year global high. Hiring intentions remain unchanged from last quarter at +23 percent, while employers continue to have difficulty finding people with the right skills.

Executive Hiring Starts the Year on the Rise

After a precipitous drop in executive hiring to close out 2022, the market—overall—seems to have found stability, according to a newly released report from executive recruiting software provider Thrive. Opened searches increased nearly 12.5 percent quarter over quarter in the first quarter of 2023, the largest quarterly growth the company says it has seen in its dataset since the third quarter of 2021. And closed searches increased nearly 3.5 percent quarter over quarter, similarly posting its largest quarterly growth since Q4 2021. “In the past, we’ve found executive compensation lags by a quarter or so, and that trend appears to have held: Median comp fell slightly to start the year, continuing to come down off its Q3 2022 peak,” said the company’s latest Executive Search Quarterly Report.

Organizations say IT and data (27 percent), engineering (22 percent), and sales and marketing (20 percent) skills are among the most sought-after technical skills they are looking for, with reliability and self-discipline (29 percent), resilience and adaptability (26 percent), critical thinking and analysis (26 percent), creativity and originality (26 percent), and reasoning and problem-solving (26 percent) the top-desired soft skills.

“Despite economic pressures, hiring outlooks remain resilient and employers across every industry continue to look for in-demand roles,” said Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “At the same time, tight labor markets mean many face challenges finding people who have the soft and technical skills they need. Investment in upskilling, reskilling, and a focus on preparing people for tomorrow’s jobs has never been more important and should be at the top of every business leader’s agenda.”

Related: Talent Shortages Reach Highest Levels in 16 Years 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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