Current Unemployment Rate and Other Jobs Report Findings
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Updated June 2 to reflect the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data.
The unemployment rate for May was 3.7%, up from 3.4% in April, according to the jobs report released on June 2 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a slight increase, but job gains and other factors show the U.S. labor market remains strong.
The new rate mostly mirrors that of the last 12 months. In that time, the unemployment rate ranged between 3.7% and 3.4%.
What are the weekly jobless claims?
Weekly jobless claims increased for the week ending May 27, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The weekly jobless claims, or initial claims, are the number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the past week.
For the week ending May 27, the seasonally adjusted weekly initial claims was 232,000, Labor Department data released on June 1 shows. That's an increase of 2,000 from the revised level of 230,000 in the week ending May 20. The new four-week moving average was 229,500, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 232,000.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate — the rate of continuous covered unemployment claims divided by covered employment — was 1.2% for the week ending May 20, unchanged from the prior week.
States with the highest insured unemployment rates, week ending May 13:
New Jersey: 2.1%
New York: 1.6%
Puerto Rico: 1.6%
Rhode Island: 1.5%
States with the largest increases in initial jobless claims, week ending May 20:
States with the largest decreases in initial jobless claims, week ending May 20:
Massachusetts: -2,127 (we now know many early increases in claims were likely fraudulent)
New York: -625
How many jobs were added in May?
The economy added 339,000 (nonfarm) jobs in May, compared to 253,000 jobs in April, 165,000 in March, 248,000 in February, and 472,000 in January.
What is the current unemployment rate?
The current unemployment rate is 3.7%, a slight increase from 3.4% in April. The rate is not dramatically different from unemployment rates during 2022. In April, the number of unemployed from layoffs, firings and temporary jobs ending topped 2.6 million. That number increased to 3 million in May.
Is unemployment rising or falling?
The unemployment rate has remained low and stable, fluctuating between 3.4% and 3.7% since March 2022. It increased by 0.3 percentage points from April to May.
How to calculate the unemployment rate
The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the number of people in the labor force. (The labor force is considered the sum of those who are currently working or looking for work.) The result is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage:
Number of unemployed people / Labor force x 100 = X%, which is the unemployment rate
What is the labor force participation rate?
The labor force participation rate didn't budge since last month, at 62.6%. That remains the highest rate since before the pandemic. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or looking for work.
The rate is calculated as the labor force divided by the total population that’s eligible to work. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the total population that’s eligible to work as the “civilian noninstitutional population,” which refers to people ages 16 and older who are not in military service or incarcerated.) The result is multiplied by 100 to get a percentage:
Labor force / Civilian noninstitutional population x 100 = X%, which is the labor force participation rate
Since October 2002, the labor force participation rate was lowest in April 2020 (60.1%) and highest in June 2003 (66.5%), according to BLS data.
How is the job market right now?
In recent months, key labor market indicators — job openings, quit rate and layoffs — showed the tight labor market could be loosening slightly. But the latest data shows increases in job openings and declining layoffs demonstrating the resilience of the current labor market.
What does the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary report show?
The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), released on May 31 shows job openings are increasing, hitting 10.1 million in April compared to the most recent previous periods: 9.6 million openings in March; 9.9 million openings in February; 10.8 million in January; and 11.2 million in December. The job openings rate was 6.1% in April — a 0.3 percentage point increase from March.
The number of job openings in April increased most in retail trade; health care and social assistance; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. In the previous month, the largest job openings were in education services.
The rate of layoffs decreased slightly from March (1.2%) to April (1.0%), according to the JOLTS report. Layoffs declined most in construction and in information.
What is the quit rate?
The JOLTS report also showed the quit rate changed little from month to month: 2.4% in April compared with 2.5% in March. Economists say quit rates are a key factor in the health of employment prospects since quitting shows that workers feel safe making a job switch within their sector or outside it entirely.
April quit rates increased in wholesale trade, but declined in state and local government.
Are wages increasing?
Wages are starting to moderate, though there was little change when comparing quarterly data in the BLS Employment Cost Index, which measures wage and salary growth. The April 28 report shows compensation costs increased by 1.2% in the first three months of 2023, compared with 1.0% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and 1.2% in the third quarter.
A more significant downward trend is seen when measuring year-over-year. For the 12-month period ending March 2023, compensation costs increased 4.8%; the previous two quarters, when measured year-over-year, showed an increase of 5.1% and 5.2%, respectively.
Will unemployment rise?
With a labor market this tight it’s hard to see significant slackening anytime soon. Even so, multiple forecasts are predicting job losses in 2023.
The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates 10 times since March 2022 in an effort to bring down inflation, which is expected to eventually lead to a higher unemployment rate.
When is the next jobs report?
The next jobs report will show data for April and will be released on June 2.