Subscribe to How To Reopen, our weekly newsletter on what it takes to reboot business in the midst of a pandemic.
The unemployment rate dropped from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June. That’s the second straight month of a pickup in hiring after the jobless rate topped out at 14.7% in April—the highest level since 1940.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report finds the U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, following the addition of 2.5 million net jobs in May. Economists projected 3 million jobs would be added in June, so the data is better than expected.
The June jobs numbers also show the economic slump is still hitting some communities harder than others. The jobless rate among white workers is 10.1%, compared with 13.8% for Asian workers, 14.5% for Hispanic workers, and 15.4% among Black workers. Among adult men the rate is 10.2%, compared to 11.2% among adult women.
A second straight month of an improving labor market signals employers are rehiring, and the economy has moved from contraction to recovery. But that rebound is about to be tested by spiking COVID-19 cases in many states and a wave of re-closing orders.
“The real risk now is we start backsliding and start contracting again,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. The resurgence of the virus, he says, is already decreasing some economic activity in Texas and Florida.
This official unemployment rate of 11.1% is likely undercounting the actual level of joblessness from June. The BLS defines the unemployed as people without jobs who are also looking for new positions. Some laid-off workers may be waiting it out before starting their job search, given the deadliness of the virus.