'WHAT THE WHAT???': Economists React To May Jobs Report On Twitter
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2.5 million jobs in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The unemployment rate declined to 13.3%.
"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 Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote in its report.
Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 1.4 million jobs in May, accounting for about half of the gain in total nonfarm employment. Retail trade jobs rose by 368,000 after showing a loss of 2.3 million jobs in April.
The construction industry added 464,000 jobs in May, gaining back nearly half of April’s decline.
Here's how economists and others reacted to the jobs report on Twitter.
Wait what? Payrolls UP 2.5m, unemployment rate DOWN to 13.3%. What the heck?— Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) June 5, 2020
Wut— Martha Gimbel (@marthagimbel) June 5, 2020
WHAAAAAT— Ernie Tedeschi (@ernietedeschi) June 5, 2020
Wait what???— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) June 5, 2020
Real-time reax: WHAT THE WHAT???— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) June 5, 2020
I am so confused by the jobs report right now.— Tara Sinclair (@TaraSinc) June 5, 2020
Clearly, we know nothing.— Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto) June 5, 2020
Okay, so nonfarm employment shows payrolls starting to recover--up 2.5 million in May--but payrolls are still down by nearly 20 million since February. We remain in a very very deep hole.— Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson) June 5, 2020
The @BLS_gov revised the numbers for March and April down, making earlier job losses even greater by 642,000. So, the gains reported for May are an inching back from a worse position than understood. @AFLCIO #JobsDay— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020
The unemployment rate is surely understated, and even the BLS agrees that in reality it's 16% rather than 13%.— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) June 5, 2020
The problem is a purely technical one: If you're employed but absent from work due to covid, they're meant to count you as employed, but it's difficult to code this. pic.twitter.com/VDxWOSipbl
Two key takeaways from the surprise jobs report:— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) June 5, 2020
1. PPP worked. The gov't aid did help. Congress will have to think carefully about letting so much aid expire in July/August
2. Unemployment rate would be 16.3%, not 13.3%, @BLS_gov says if some were people weren't misclassified pic.twitter.com/U3hEvYkUGO
One thing that should not be forgotten: the April jobs report captured the labor market just before almost any of our fiscal response was out the door.— Ernie Tedeschi (@ernietedeschi) June 5, 2020
Over the next four weeks, we got $800B in fiscal support through stimulus checks, regular and emergency UI payments, and PPP. https://t.co/ph6ikSHRcg pic.twitter.com/FOMYG69AOh
The biggest deficiency of the CARES Act was the lack of general support for state and local governments. The one major sector that lost jobs was government, including 310,000 layoffs in local government education.— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) June 5, 2020
One deeply concerning thing is that we lost another 571,000 state and local government jobs in May, for a total of 1.6 million state and local government jobs lost in the last three months—*nearly half* of them in local government education (that’s basically public K-12). 2/— Heidi Shierholz (@hshierholz) June 5, 2020
I think this is a key point: With upwards of 50 million workers potentially affected, even a 10% increase in payrolls at PPP businesses would boost aggregate job growth by 5 million and could easy swamp underlying job loss elsewhere.— Adam Ozimek (@ModeledBehavior) June 5, 2020
#jobsday people on temporary layoffs account for 73.0 percent of the unemployed— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) June 5, 2020
Hmm. Did the odds of V-shaped recovery just increase? Or did the economy hit bottom in May and we’ll be crawling for several months (provided there’s no uptick in Covid cases)? Or what?— David Wessel (@davidmwessel) June 5, 2020
It's still bizarre to think of 1.88 million initial jobless claims as a "good" number. It's not good, obviously -- it's tragic, but at least it's trending in the right direction.— Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto) June 4, 2020
It looks like we were trying to describe the economic recovery with the wrong Nike symbol. pic.twitter.com/3yYk6ZiW6A— James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) June 5, 2020
PUNCHLINE: One jobs report NEVER establishes a new trend. But this one is encouraging in a **possible** trend arriving sooner than we thought, though too many workers, esp. persons of color, are still beset with recessionary conditions.— Jared Bernstein (@econjared) June 5, 2020