Following a surprise rise in employment in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a further drop in unemployment for June on Thursday. Total private nonfarm employment rose by 4.77 million in June, marking the second consecutive month of record job gains.
While the White House was quick to celebrate those records, it's important to note that the latest job gains were only made possible by the historic job losses that preceded them. Total nonfarm employment in June was still 13 million short of last year's June total and nearly 15 million short of the pre-pandemic level from February 2020. Moreover, 17.75 million Americans are still unemployed as as second wave of lockdowns looms ominously as case numbers continue to rise.
“These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued 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 BLS wrote in today’s official press release.
As the following chart shows, almost every industry reported a gain in employment last month, with leisure & hospitality benefitting the most from widespread reopenings.