June 5, 2020 / by Jay Heflin
The economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, lowering the unemployment rate to 13.3%, the Labor Department said Friday.
The payroll gains, the largest on record, represented a stunning development and a hint that the worst-case scenario for the economy might not come to pass. Forecasters had expected job losses of 8 million and an unemployment rate of about 20%.
“This looks like the shortest recession in history,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG.
Employment rose sharply in sectors such as leisure, hospitality, and retail as states began to reopen last month — the same industries that had seen extreme rates of layoffs as the pandemic struck. The leisure and hospitality sectors saw job gains of 1.2 million, following losses of 7.5 million in April and 743,000 in March. The retail sector gained 368,000 in May, after a loss of 2.3 million in April.