Breaking down the monthly BLS job report
Below are the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on “The Employment Situation” — the bureau’s term for the monthly jobs report.
Each report provides data on the month prior (September’s report covers August numbers, for example), and numbers are regularly adjusted in future reports. Unadjusted numbers are noted in the text.
3.6% unemployment rate390,000 jobs added
Private nonfarm payroll rose by 390,000 jobs in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.
While this is the lowest increase so far in 2022, other aspects of the economy — including participation rate and employment-to-population ratio — improved, signaling a cooling but still steady job market, Indeed economic research director Nick Bunker said in a statement.
“While more workers are getting jobs, the data show no sign of a pick-up in layoffs,” Bunker said. “The rate at which workers are leaving employment continues to be quite low.”
All told, employers have reasons to be “cautiously optimistic” about the current job market, Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer at American Staffing Association, said in a statement.
Wage growth also began to level off, rising 0.3% in May.
Released June 3, 2022
3.6% unemployment rate428,000 jobs added
April marked another month of strong job growth, with total nonfarm payroll rising by 428,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.
Employment groups continue to voice concern about labor shortages, however, as workforce participation is still lower than what it was in February 2020, immediately prior to the pandemic.
“We hear from businesses every day that the worker shortage is their top challenge, and it’s impacting the country’s ability to ease supply chain disruptions, get inflation under control and continue our economic recovery,” Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president, chief policy officer and head of strategic advocacy, said in a statement.
The American Staffing Association echoed those concerns, noting that demand continues to outpace supply.
“It’s a workers’ labor market and, more than ever before, employers need to focus on making their organizations more worker-centric,” Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer at the American Staffing Association, said in a statement.
Released May 6, 2022
3.6% unemployment rate431,000 jobs added
"Notable" gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing lead to strong job gains overall in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 431,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%.
The gains indicate that the job market remains healthy, even amid inflation concerns and the ongoing war in Ukraine disrupting supply chains, various reports noted.
"It was another good month for the U.S. economy, but it’s not a victory yet," Sean Macari, CEO of Valiant Search, an executive search firm, said in an emailed statement to HR Dive. "As long as the war in Ukraine continues, a recession remains a risk, especially with the current rate of inflation."
Released April 1, 2022
3.8% unemployment rate678,000 jobs added
Total nonfarm payroll rose by 678,000 jobs in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8% – numbers that met or beat economist expectations, sources told HR Dive.
Notably, wages rose little, which could ease some worries about rising inflation — though it is not good news for workers who have only seen wages rise 5.1% year-over-year, compared to the 7.5% rise in goods prices since January 2021, Axios noted in its report.
While the crisis in Ukraine was not reflected in the February report, it could prompt a slowdown in hiring due to worldwide economic impacts of the invasion, The New York Times said. Overall, the U.S. market remains job seeker friendly, requiring employers to take another look at their offerings to keep people on board.
“Employee quits won’t get better this year, and empowering people to choose when and where they work is critical to being able to stand out as an employer right now,” James Neave, head of data science at Adzuna, said in a statement.
Released March 4, 2021
4.0% unemployment rate467,000 jobs added
January 2022 job numbers heavily beat economists expectations, coming in at 467,000 jobs added, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4%.
The ADP National Employment Report had December losing 301,000 jobs due likely to the spread of omicron, with almost every sector experiencing losses. While the BLS report did not reflect the same pressures, BLS said that 6 million people reported they were unable to work because their employer had to close or lost business due to the pandemic, compared to only 3.1 million in December.
January’s report generally reflects a continued tightening of the job market, experts said. “The million dollar question for employers remains how to hire more workers from a smaller talent pool,” Andrew Hunter, co-founder and economist at Adzuna, said in an email statement.
Axios noted that fewer seasonal hirers cut their temporary jobs in order to hold on to workers, which may have boosted numbers.
Released Feb. 4, 2022
3.9% unemployment rate199,000 jobs gained
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 199,000 in December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced. While the job gains were slower than expected, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% – the first time the rate fell below 4% since February 2020.
Wages continued to rise, hitting a 4.7% difference year-over-year, as employers fight to keep talent onboard. And while the December report’s data is before the omicron variant became widespread, jobless claims remain low, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Released Jan. 7, 2022