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US non-farm payrolls unexpectedly increase by 2.5 million in May as world’s biggest economy regains footing

The May US unemployment rate fell to 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April, surprising economists who predicted it to rise to 19.5%

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The May jobs gain was by far the biggest one-month increase in US history since at least 1939

In a big surprise, US non-farm payrolls increased by 2.5 million in May as the world’s biggest economy attempts to regain its footing after being battered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to 13.3%, down from 14.7% last month, surprising economists who had predicted the jobless rate to rise to 19.5% with 7.25 million job losses forecast.

The May jobs gain was by far the biggest one-month increase in US history since at least 1939.

READ: US non-farm payrolls plunge by 20.5M in April as coronavirus pandemic batters world’s biggest economy

“These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April,” the Labor Department said in its release Friday.

Many economists expect that May will be the low-point for the US job market - which lost a staggering 20.7 million jobs just last month to near Great Depression levels - and that unemployment will begin to ease as states reopen and businesses call employees back to work. 

Consumer confidence, manufacturing and services industries are also stabilizing, though at low levels. But it will take far longer for the economy to climb out of the hole than it did to fall into it.

Of the 2.5 million new jobs, leisure and hospitality workers made up almost half the increase, with 1.2 million going back to work.

Wall Street was set to rally on Friday, as stocks around the world rose on hopes that government support would support an economic recovery. Dow futures recently traded up 603 points to 26,856.

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