Some early US data suggests May’s jobs report may echo April’s weakness

Construction workers line up to do a temperature test to return to the job site after lunch, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, New York, USA, November 10, 2020. REUTERS / Carlo Allegri / File Photo

Some initial US employment data for May is showing signs of weakness, raising the possibility that April’s disappointing jobs report was not just a one-time failure.

May’s closely watched employment report will be based on surveys that will ask companies about paid employment levels from this week.

Hiring recently came to a halt at a cluster of small businesses, according to high-frequency data collected through May 9 by Homebase, which tracked employee time during the pandemic in a sample of about 54,000 restaurants, retailers self-employed and other small businesses.

Measurements of shiftwork at around 35,000 companies large and small, which are tracked by time management company UKG, foreshadowed the weakness of the April jobs report.

UKG data in May showed work in manufacturing, retail and healthcare was down.

“People have spent the past 14 months rebuilding their lives around the pandemic. They made alternative childcare and education arrangements, budgeted for reduced household income, and adjusted their lifestyle. While there seem to be “need help” signs everywhere you look, it may be as late as September before we really see hiring numbers increase. “

Job growth in the United States unexpectedly slowed in April, likely limited by labor and raw material shortages, to just 266,000 jobs, well below the nearly one million expected . Read more

The economy still has more than 8 million jobs below what it was before the pandemic, and if such stagnant progress continues, it will be years before the labor market recovers.

Economists generally expect strong job growth in the coming months, as people return to more normal activities – a prospect that was boosted this week when U.S. health officials said people vaccinated against the coronavirus could stop wearing masks under most circumstances.

Oxford Economics chief US economist Gregory Daco said at this point he expected 500,000 to 750,000 new jobs to be added in May, and “that could pick up.”

Other preliminary indicators on the strength of hiring and the economy as a whole are mixed.

Unemployment claims for the week ending May 8 declined slightly, but have grown only slowly in recent weeks.

Consumer sentiment in early May fell as people worried about rising prices. Inflation expectations for the coming year and for the next five years have reached their highest level in more than a decade.

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