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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

U.S. Labor Market Update | May 2024

In May, the U.S. economy added 272,000 jobs, significantly exceeding economists' expectations of 185,000. The unemployment rate increased slightly to 4%, ending the longest streak of sub-4 percent unemployment since the 1960s. Understanding these shifts is crucial for job seekers and employers to navigate the current market effectively. This article explores the latest data, offering insights to help you make informed decisions in today's competitive job environment.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Unemployment Rate: Increased to 4%.

  • Job Growth: A significant jump of 272,000 added jobs, surpassing expectations.

  • Industry Movements: Wage growth in nearly every sector in May. 

In May 2024, the unemployment rate in the United States stood at 4.0%. This uptick translates to approximately 6.6 million people currently unemployed. Despite this increase, the job market remains relatively stable, with strong job growth across various sectors. Major job gains were seen in healthcare (68,000 jobs), government (43,000 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (42,000 jobs), contributing to a total of 272,000 new jobs added in May alone.

Wages also saw an increase, rising 4.1% year-over-year and 0.4% month-over-month. However, the labor force participation rate dipped to 62.5%, while participation among prime-age workers (ages 25-54) reached 83.6%, the highest in 22 years.

In May, the labor market saw an increase in average hourly earnings across nearly every sector. Notable increases were observed in professional and business services (+$0.20, 0.28%), wholesale trade (+$0.19, 0.51%), and financial activities (+$0.18, 0.40%). Sectors like manufacturing (+$0.16, 0.48%) and education & health services (+$0.16, 0.47%) also showed positive growth. The mining and lodging sector was the only one to experience a slight decrease in earnings (-$0.05, 0.13%).

The number of individuals working part-time for economic reasons remained unchanged at 4.4 million. Additionally, 5.7 million people were not in the labor force but desired employment, highlighting potential areas for labor market engagement and presenting an opportunity for job seekers and employers alike to leverage the existing technology to match this workforce to these opportunities. 

Industry Insights 



With a significant jump in March, the retail industry showed a bit of slowing in May. April had a considerable increase in resume-to-postings nearing 8:1, but May showed a slowdown closer to the average of 3.4:1. Retail job postings remained strong, recovering the upward trajectory observed earlier in the year, though with a slight dip from the March peak. With May showing a decrease in resumes per job, this indicates that jobs were harder to fill for employers and more available for active seekers. sustained demand for retail workers as the industry adapts to evolving consumer behaviors.

Customer Service

After a drop in April, net job postings in Customer Service are on the rise once more. This resurgence suggests that employers are seeking more employees, likely due to improving business conditions and consumer interactions. The ratio of resumes to postings remained stable, highlighting a balanced market where the availability of jobs is keeping pace with the number of applicants. This equilibrium indicates healthy dynamics in the customer service job market, providing ample opportunities for both employers and job seekers.

Food Service 

Net postings for food service jobs began to rise again, indicating an increase in employer demand. This resurgence suggests that the food service industry is experiencing growth, likely due to seasonal factors and increased consumer activity. The number of resumes for food service positions also showed a slight uptick, reflecting a consistent interest from job seekers in this sector. The resume-to-posting ratio suggests a balanced market where the supply of candidates keeps pace with the demand for food service roles, providing a stable outlook for job seekers and employers alike.

The labor market in service sectors is navigating a period of adjustment. While job postings have declined and wage growth has slowed, the demand for workers remains strong. Technological integration offers a path forward, helping businesses adapt to labor shortages and rising costs. As these industries continue to evolve, focusing on efficiency and customer experience will be key to sustaining growth.

For businesses looking to navigate these challenging times, JobGet offers a streamlined solution for hiring service industry workers. With its mobile-first approach, JobGet connects job seekers directly with employers, making the hiring process quicker and more efficient. This is particularly valuable in an environment where labor market dynamics are rapidly changing.


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