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May 2023 – BLS Statistics Employment Situation – SSG Rundown


As we turn our attention to May of 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its Employment Situation Report for this past month. This summary provides insight into the current job market trends and statistics within the United States, which will affect businesses and workers alike. Overall continued growth and stability are on tap for the near future. We’ll look at this report breaking down what it means for employers, job seekers, and everyone affected by employment across the country.


Change in Employment Rate

The unemployment rate shifted drastically to 3.7% in May, making it the highest rate since January. This is an increase of 440,000, leaving the total number of unemployed individuals at 6.1 million. The average amount of work hours per week edged down by 0.1, leaving the amount at 34.3 hours per week.

Household Survey Data

Identical to April and its percentage since before the pandemic, the labor force participation rate remained fixed at 62.6%. The employment-population ratio also remained unchanged, with a 0.1% decrease from the past month, resulting in a rate of 60.3%. 

Earnings Rundown

In May, the average hourly earnings for all nonfarm employees rose by 11 cents or 0.3 percent, increasing to $33.44. While this is a slight reduction from the past month, the average hourly earnings have improved incredibly over the past year by 4.3 percent. 


may 2023 bls report new employment graph


Total nonfarm employment increased by 339,000 in May, exactly in line with the average monthly gain of 341,000 over the previous year. This was a huge jump, adding 45,000 more jobs compared to April alone, and was also the highest increase in added jobs since January of this year. Additionally, job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, government, construction, transportation and warehousing, and social assistance. 

Professional and Business Services added 64,000 jobs in May, similar to the amount added in April, which is up significantly from the few months prior. In specificity, 43,000 of those jobs were added in professional, scientific, and technical services. 

New to the list of highlighted industries for jobs added, Government jobs increased by 56,000 in May. Over the past year, the average monthly gain in the industry has been 42,000, so this was a big jump in the field. Employment in government is still below the pre-pandemic levels, but only by 0.9 percent, so the industry is continuing to make a good recovery. 

Health Care added 52,000 jobs in May, which aligns with the average monthly gain of 50,000 jobs in the industry over the past six months. The field highlights include increased jobs in ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities.

With a healthy jump, Leisure and Hospitality continues to trend up and added 48,000 jobs this month, up 17,000 from April. Most of these new jobs come from food services and drinking places, which is attributed to 33,000 of those jobs. Despite this positive increase, the levels are down from the past 6-month average of 77,000 added jobs per month. 

Construction is also new to the list of top-added jobs by industry, as it added a total of 25,000 jobs in May. While this rate seems lower than that of the previously highlighted industries, this is a tremendous increase from the past 6-month average of only an added 17,000 jobs per month. Most of these added jobs can be accredited to the 11,000 jobs added in heavy and civil engineering construction. 

Other fields with outstanding job increases were Transportation and Warehousing, with an increase of 24,000 jobs, and Social Assistance, with an increase of 22,000 jobs. Employment was mostly the same over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; information; financial activities; and other services. 


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