The United States added over half a million jobs in the month of May, a new report by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics stated on Friday, adding fuel to President Joe Biden’s claims of a “historic progress” in job gains amid a ramped up vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and hopes of post-pandemic economic recovery. “This is historic progress,” the New York Times quoted US President Joe Biden as saying, “Progress that’s pulling our economy out of the worst crisis it’s been in 100 years.”
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The employment report published by the US labour department showed that 559,000 jobs were added by American employers in May, which is twice that of April. Although employment is still far below pre-pandemic levels, data shows that the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8% from the earlier 6.1% while online job postings, too, shot up 27% at the end of May from their level in February last year. The number of people who have been out of work for at least six months is also falling — the report shows that the number has dropped to 3.8 million, approximately 40% of the total.
President Joe Biden took the opportunity to claim credit for what he calls “historic progress” in job gains, accounting for the success of his vaccination campaign and $1.9 trillion economic aid deployed in March. “None of this success is an accident, it isn’t,” Biden was quoted as saying. He lauded the American people for responding to Covid-19 related protocols and calls for vaccination. The “American rescue plan”, he said, also played a major role in this success.
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The employment report, however, contains some less encouraging bits which have become cannon fodder for Republicans looking to train their guns on the Democratic regime. Even though job growth has seen some uneven patches over the past couple of months, the labour force participation rate has steadily caved in, which shows that several workers who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic have still not returned.
It also showed that although Americans across all race and gender were gradually gaining their jobs back, Black and Hispanic women especially found themselves lagging in these areas. Employment of Black women went on a 7% decline since February 2020, while that of Hispanic women was down 7.2%.
With the US labour force participation rate falling to 61.6%, Republicans blamed Biden’s aid package, alleging that lucrative unemployment benefits — $300-per-week supplemental package — are actually “discouraging” workers from returning to their jobs. Debunking these allegations, though, White House economists have said that there’s currently no sufficient evidence to suggest that the supplement was discouraging workers from seeking back employment. This phenomenon, they said, could also be accounted to factors like school closures or child care issues which, for example, could theoretically have kept women with children from returning to work, but reiterated that further studies are needed to ascertain the legitimate causes.