United States Economy Gains 339,000 Jobs in May 2023
Defying expectations once again, the United States economy managed to add a significant number of jobs last month.
About the May 2023 jobs report:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy gained 339,000 jobs in May 2023. That’s far higher than the 190,000 figure that economists projected. What’s more, April’s jobs number was adjusted upwards, climbing to 294,000 from 253,000. Additionally, while March’s jobs figure was originally announced to be 236,000, that was adjusted downward in April’s release and then up to 217,000 in this latest BLS report.
Despite the increase in jobs, the unemployment rate climbed from 3.4% in April to 3.7% in May. This marks its highest point since October 2022.
Turning to wages, average hourly earnings increased by 11¢ in May to reach $33.44. This marks an increase of 0.3% from April and a 4.3% year-over-year gain. At the same time, April’s consumer price index update shows an inflation rate of 4.9% from April 2022.
What they’re saying:
Commenting on this month’s report, Nationwide chief economist Kathy Bostjancic told Marketwatch, “The continued strength in employment pushes back the start of a prospective recession but does not eliminate that likelihood.” Bostjancic continued, “And if the economy remains too hot to meaningfully slow inflation, the Fed will simply raise rates higher, still a path towards a downturn.”
Meanwhile, ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollack noted the rising unemployment rate as a potential sign, stating, “Usually, economists put more stock in the establishment survey, because it is based on a larger sample and is less volatile. But the household survey has been more sensitive to the start of economic downturns.”
There’s no question that the United States economy post-pandemic lockdown has been a confusing beast. Unfortunately, this strong report does little to ease the confusion as Americans continue to brace for a recession that’s been teased for years now. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the stock market rallied today despite the better-than-expected numbers (usually, such news is met with fears of higher rates and, thus, selloffs). On that note, while it seems like the Fed will hold off on another round of rate increases for now, that could always change.
Ultimately, while it’s worth keeping an eye on these monthly reports, the conflicting signs along with the revisions that each month brings mean that those looking for economic clarity will have to zoom out from these singular snapshots.