Hickey US Jobs Report Thumbnail - May 2021

Hickey Jobs Report Update – May 2021

Hickey Jobs Report Update – US adds 559,000 jobs as unemployment drops below 6% in May 2021

US barely missed high expectations with the addition of 559,000 jobs and unemployment decreasing to 5.8% in May, according the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report 

While not meeting robust estimates, the hiring trends were a strong sign of momentum for the overall economy.  The data in this update derives from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary, often referred to as the Jobs Report.

With continued pressures on the larger hiring environment, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 15 cents to $30.33.  This month’s gains built upon April’s increase of 21 cents.

Key Industries

Leisure and Hospitality

The leisure and hospitality industry continued leading the way in job creation as Covid restrictions are eased throughout the United States.  In May, the industry increased employment by 292,000 jobs.  Approximately 2/3 of the new jobs came from food services and drinking places with 186,000 additional workers, while amusements, gambling, and recreation added 58,000 and accommodations increased employment by 35,000.  Overall employment in the hard hit industry is still down by 15% from February 2020 levels.


In May, education hiring continued across private and public education providers.  Local government education led the way with 53,000 new hires, followed by 50,000 in state government education and 41,000 from private education.  Employment is still down by nearly 1.1 million across these sectors since February 2020.


Employment in the construction industry slightly ticked down in May by 20,000.  The primary swing was in nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which reported a loss of 17,000 workers.  Industry employment is trailing by 225,000 jobs from pre-pandemic levels.

Professional and Business Services

With a delayed tax day, accounting and bookkeeping services were the largest gainers in the industry by adding 14,000 workers in May.  After a significant decline in April, employment in temporary help services edged up by 4,000 in May.  Altogether, the industry is still down by 708,000 workers from February 2020.


Led by the motor vehicles and parts sector with the addition of 25,000 workers, employment in the dynamic manufacturing industry only added 23,000 total jobs last month.   As a whole, manufacturing is down by 509,000 workers from before the pandemic.

Transportation and Warehousing

Support activities for transportation and air transportation were the main hiring sectors with 10,000 and 9,000, respectively.  In total, the transportation and warehousing sector added 23,000 jobs, which still puts it down by approximately 100,000 since February 2020.

Retail Trade

Overall employment in retail trade edged slightly down in May with a loss of 6,000 workers.  Food and beverage stores had the greatest decline of 26,000 workers, which follows a loss of 47,000 jobs the previous month.  Clothing and clothing accessories stores were a positive story in adding roughly 11,000 workers.  Overall, the vast industry is 411,000 lower than in February 2020.

Health Care and Social Assistance 

Ambulatory health care services led the way for the health care industry with a gain of 22,000 workers in May.  Social assistance added 23,000 workers, which was primarily from a rise in child day care services employment by 18,000. The industry in total is down by 765,000 jobs since February 2020.

Other Industries

Among other industries across the U.S. economy, the following employment numbers were released in the latest report:

  • Information: +29,000
  • Financial: little change
  • Wholesale Trade: +20,000
  • Mining: little change

 For more information on the latest Jobs Report, including additional details on the data concepts and statistical methodologies utilized, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary website.