WASHINGTON: The US economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was probably over, though the road to recovery could be long.
The Labor Department's closely watched employment report on Friday (Jun 5) also showed the jobless rate falling to 13.3 per cent last month from 14.7 per cent in April, a post World War Two high.
It came on the heels of surveys showing consumer confidence, manufacturing and services industries stabilizing.
Economic conditions have significantly improved as businesses reopened after shuttering in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.5 million jobs last month after a record plunge of 20.7 million in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the unemployment rate jumping to 19.8 per cent in May and payrolls falling by 8 million jobs.
The report flew in the face of expectations that the unemployment rate would come close to 20 per cent in May, after millions of laid-off workers filed for jobless benefits.
President Donald Trump on Friday sent a tweet taking credit for the report that showed the country's unemployment rate dropped during the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, and then announced he would hold a news conference at 10am on the topic.
"Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!" Trump wrote within minutes of the government releasing the employment report for May.
"It’s a stupendous number. It’s joyous, let’s call it like it is. The Market was right. It’s stunning!" Trump also tweeted.
US stock index futures sharply extended gains. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. US Treasury prices fell.
"These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it," The Labor Department said in a statement.
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