Americans continued to return to the workforce in May, in higher numbers than April but not as high as was expected.

There were 559,000 positions added back; economists had predicted 650,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Friday, the unemployment rate fell its lowest mark, 5.8 percent, since March 2020 (4.4 percent) at the onset of the pandemic lockdowns.

Female workers over 20 led the demographics, adding 381,000 jobs, while teens added 70,000 jobs.

Despite the shortfall in job creation, the May report dwarfed the revised 278,000 jobs added in April. 

Worker shortage continues to plague businesses, however, with some analysts pointing to the continued unemployment payments keeping would-be job seekers at home. There currently at least 25 states that have ended – or plan to end — the expanded jobless benefits before the original September deadline.

Companies are raising wages to attract and retain employees, and statistics from last month show hourly earnings up by 15 cents to $30.33.

“Only a few months ago we had expected to see several months’ worth of gains north of one million as the economy reopened, but labor supply is bouncing back much more slowly than demand,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at research firm Capital Economics, in a Fox Business story. 

Among the sectors gaining workers:

  • Leisure and hospitality sector, 292,000 added. 
  • Amusements, gambling, and recreation (+58,000).
  • Accommodation (+35,000). 
  • Local government education (+53,000), state government education (+50,000) and private education (+41,000). 
  • Health care and social assistance (+46,000), information (+29,000), manufacturing (+23,000), transportation and warehousing (+23,000) and wholesale trade (+20,000). 

The total jobs in the construction industry, however, shrunk by 20,000 jobs in May, and the sector has bled 220,000 workers since the beginning of the pandemic.   

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