By Kellie Lail

The great news: In May, unemployment remained at 3.6% for the third month in a row since March 2022, maintaining its two-year low. As a reminder, at 3.6%, unemployment is still only a tenth of a percent away from its pre-pandemic historic low of 3.5%. The industries that garnered the largest share of the 390,000 jobs added in April were leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and transportation and warehousing. An interesting fact to consider, the largest employment decline was seen in the retail industry. The number of employed persons remains essentially unchanged, coming in at 6.0 million. The pre-pandemic low of unemployed persons came in at 5.7 million.

The good news: In May, the number of long-term unemployed people, those jobless for more than 27 weeks, came in at 1.4 million, only 235,000 more than the pre-pandemic low in February 2020. This accounts for 23.3 percent of all unemployed in May. Average hourly wages for all private non-farm payroll employees rose 10 cents in May or 0.3%. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.2%. Average hourly wages for non-supervisory employees rose by 15 cents or 0.6%.

The bad news: Although wages continue to increase, they have still not met the rate of inflation over the same time period. Discouraged workers who believed that no jobs were available for them hit 415,000 in May, showing little change in this number from April. In May, 1.8 million people reported that they were unable to work due to their employer closing or losing business as a result of the pandemic, showing an increase from 1.7 million people in April.

Keep in mind: As unemployment rates continue to remain low, inflation continues to rise along with the cost of living, and an increase in the number of businesses looking to hire while the number of unemployed persons actively looking for work remains relatively steady, being a competitive employer continues to be more important than ever. To attract the best candidates that are looking to work in your industry, you must show them that you are the most competitive employer in terms of salary, benefits, career stability, and career growth opportunities.

Key Takeaways: With unemployment remaining stagnant in May, employers will need to continue to raise wages and increase the number of offered benefits to attract additional staff. Employers should also aim to continue to increase their diversity and inclusion initiatives to ensure that they are finding the best, most qualified candidates for their open opportunities. Another thing to keep in mind is that telecommuting continues to remain popular in the job market, with 7.4% of workers telecommuting due to the pandemic. Offering remote options and flexibility can also play a role in casting a wider net to ensure you are attracting the candidates you want to fill your position.

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