May 2020 Jobs Report: 2.5 Million Jobs Added; Unemployment Rate Drops

By Robert Half on June 5, 2020 at 7:56am

The May jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offered some surprisingly good news: Employers added 2.5 million jobs last month, the largest one-month increase since the BLS started reporting on this information in 1939.

Most of the jobs added in May — 1.239 million — were in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has seen deep payroll cuts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These sectors also saw strong growth in May:

  • Construction: 464,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 424,000 jobs added
  • Retail trade: 368,000 jobs added
  • Other services: 272,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing: 225,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 127,000 jobs added

Unemployment rate improves to 13.3%

Another positive from the May jobs report: The unemployment rate fell to 13.3%, from 14.7% in April.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older was 7.4% in May, down one percentage point from April. These professionals are most highly sought-after by employers. 

What employers need to know

There is a large pool of available talent right now, but that doesn’t make hiring any easier. Here’s why:

  • There are more resumes to wade through — and more video interviews to conduct. It takes a lot of time and effort to find the right candidate among the overwhelming volume of applications, especially if you’re also trying to get your business running like normal again. 
  • Even with more people looking for jobs, you still miss a key segment of the labor pool: employed professionals who are searching for new employment opportunities confidentially.
  • If you’re hiring for a remote position, it can be challenging to reach potential candidates outside your local market and then determining if the individuals who catch your attention are well-suited to work from home.

All this and more is why now may be a good time to establish a relationship with a specialized staffing firm like Robert Half. You’ll increase your chances of connecting quickly with candidates who have just the right mix of technical and soft skills to help your business thrive in the new normal.

What job seekers need to know

Businesses are starting to reopen, but the job market remains challenging. That said, there is a lot you can do right now to position yourself for job search success. For example:

  • Devote more time to expanding your online network
  • Leverage the contacts you already have to find leads on employment opportunities — or at least get valuable career advice.
  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to ensure they emphasize your experience — and your potential — in the best light. 
  • Take online courses to earn new skills or certifications.
  • Study job descriptions to make sure your application materials align with what your target employers are typically looking for in potential hires.

Also consider reaching out to a recruiter. A staffing professional can give you sound career guidance and help connect you with relevant job leads — including positions not listed on public job boards. And staffing specialists with firms like Robert Half can even assist you in finding remote work, a path you might not have considered before. Temporary work opportunities arranged by a staffing firm might also be an option if you have the right skills and experience.

An infographic summarizing the May 2020 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half


2,509,000 JOBS ADDED*




    Unemployment Rate Unemployment Rate for College Grads
  June '19 3.7% 2.1%
  July '19 3.7% 2.2%
  August '19 3.7% 2.1%
  September '19 3.5% 2.0%
  October '19 3.6% 2.1%
  November '19 3.5% 2.0%
  December '19 3.5% 1.9%
  January '20 3.6% 2.0%
  February '20 3.5% 1.9%
  March '20 4.4% 2.5%
  April '20 14.7% 8.4%
  May '20 13.3% 7.4%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at


28% of office workers will take fewer days off compared to last summer, because of COVID-19.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers in the U.S.

© 2020 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

More From the Blog...