The US unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7%, and 2.5 million jobs were added a surprisingly positive reading in the midst of a recession that has paralyzed the economy in the wake of the viral pandemic.
The May job gain suggests that businesses have quickly been recalling workers as states have reopened their economies.
Other evidence has also shown that the job market meltdown triggered by the coronavirus has bottomed out. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits has declined for nine straight weeks. And the total number of people receiving such aid has essentially leveled off.
The overall job cuts have widened economic disparities that have disproportionately hurt minorities and lower-educated workers. Though the unemployment rate for white Americans was 12.4% May, it was 17.6% for Hispanics and 16.8% for African-Americans.
Even with the surprising gain in May, it may take months for all those who lost work in April and March to find jobs. Some economists forecast the rate could remain in double-digits through the November elections and into next year.