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Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. economy added 559,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.8% from 6.1%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: Vaxxed America isn't surging back to work as quickly as economists, who had predicted 670,000 new jobs, hoped it would. Still, the total number of jobs in the U.S. rose by a reasonably healthy amount in May — much faster than the anemic growth of 278,000 we saw in April.

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: There's reason for optimism.

  • The unemployment rate hit a fresh pandemic-era low of 5.8%, with 496,000 fewer people considered unemployed.
  • Wages also jumped: Average hourly earnings rose 2% from this time last year.

Details: Leisure and hospitality led the pickup in hiring, with 292,000 new jobs gained. Two-thirds of those gains happened at food and drinking places, despite widespread complaints of worker shortages.

  • Pandemic-related unemployment fell sharply. The number of people who said their employer was closed or lost business because of the pandemic fell by a whopping 1.5 million, down to 7.9 million.
  • Construction employment, however, hasn’t followed the housing market upwards. The total number of jobs in construction fell in May by 20,000, though the decline was mostly in nonresidential jobs.

What they're saying: "My main takeaway from this jobs report (as from the last one) is that you can't just flip a switch and turn an economy back on," tweeted the N.Y. Times' Binyamin Appelbaum. "Recovery is messy and it's just going to take more time than anyone would like."

What it means for President Biden: There are still 7.6 million fewer Americans employed than there were pre-pandemic. At this rate, that gap won't close for another 13 months. That's going to help President Biden as he tries to push through his trillion-dollar job-creation bill.

What it means for Wall Street: The Fed wants to see a strong burst of hiring before it changes its monetary policy stance. This report, while good, doesn't satisfy that.

The bottom line: We're back on the path to a labor market recovery. But the path won't be a short one.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Fed acknowledges economic progress, maintains supportive policy

Jerome Powell. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the economy has made progress, but reiterated its commitment to keep monetary policy loose and stimulative.

Why it matters: The rapid economic recovery has caused the prices for some goods and services to jump, causing measures like the core PCE price index to rise above the Fed’s target for an average of 2%.

Updated 22 hours ago - Economy & Business

U.S. economy grew at a 6.5% rate last quarter, missing expectations

Contractors work on a home under construction. (Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The U.S. economy grew at an annualized 6.5% rate last quarter, the government said Thursday — slower than the 8.4% economists expected.

Why it matters: It came as the economy made strides toward further reopening, vaccinations rolled out and government stimulus bolstered spending. But supply crunches held the pace of growth back.

John Frank, author of Denver
23 hours ago - Axios Denver

Michael Hancock's $450M bond package faces opposition

The construction at the National Western Center in 2021. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's $450 million spending plan is already in trouble.

The opposition from City Council members came a day after the mayor made his pitch in the State of the City address.

  • The city leaders are disputing the entire foundation of the bond package — why it's necessary, where the money will go and whether it would benefit the community.