The U.S. economy added a stunning 2.5 million jobs in May and the jobless rate dropped to 13.3 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday, pointing to a swifter-than-expected rebound from the unprecedented coronavirus lockdown.
"Today was a shocking jobs number – and for the first time this year it was a positive shock," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. "It’s very encouraging to see workers being recalled back by their employers and the unemployment rate dropped back down in May."
The private sector accounted for the majority of the gains last month, with nearly 3.1 million positions added to the payroll, according to the Labor Department's report released on Friday.
The biggest gains took place in the leisure and hospitality industry, which added a staggering 1.2 million jobs last month. In April, the industry -- the hardest hit by the virus outbreak -- lost 7.5 million jobs.
More than 1.3 million workers returned to food services and drinking places -- another devastated sector -- as states gradually allowed businesses deemed nonessential to reopen. However, hotels remained slow to rebound: Last month, they shed another 148,200 jobs.
“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 (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the Labor Department said in a news release.
Construction added 464,000 new workers in May, with gains widespread across the industry, while trade, transportation and utilities accounted for a whopping 368,000 positions. Auto dealers added 84,700 jobs.
Education and health care services surged by 424,000 jobs; health care alone accounted for 312,400 of those positions. Dentists jumped by 244,800 as offices were allowed to reopen again. Child care services added 44,400 as schools remained closed. Still, hospitals lost more than 26,000 jobs.
Professional and business services added 127,000 jobs.
Clothing stores added nearly 95,000 jobs and general merchandise stores added 84,000.
Not every sector saw a rebound, however: The biggest losses took place in the government, which shed 585,000 positions as states faced a lack of revenue. State governments shrank by 84,000 jobs, and local governments lost 487,000.