Employment growth in May slowed from the high rate achieved early this year, but gains were still strong. Statistics from ADP showed that 179,000 jobs were added in the month. Though economists had been predicting over 200,000 positions to be filled, employment is now just shy of prerecession levels.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees grew the most, adding 82,000 jobs. Large companies with more than 500 employees gained 37,000 employees, and organizations with between 50 and 499 employees, the group with the slowest job recovery in May, grew by 61,000. Across organizations of all sizes, most gains were in professional and business services, which added 46,000 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities also posted solid growth, with 35,000 new employees.
Reason for optimism
USA Today reported that the picture may be sunnier when the U.S. Department of Labor releases its own report on Friday. While ADP data only count gains in the private sector, government figures show public sector jobs as well. Private sector employment alone may be higher than ADP reported, according to High Frequency Economics. The organization tracks data from both ADP and the Department of Labor and has found that the government reports 36,000 more private sector jobs on average. Jim O'Sullivan of HFE told USA Today that April's growth was so high that even lower-than-expected May numbers should not be cause for worry.
According to CNN, the Department of Labor's statistics should prove that the economy has finally recovered as many jobs as were lost in the recession. Just 113,000 positions need to be filled to make up the 8.7 million lost in the financial crisis. The rebound has now taken more than four years, twice as much time as it took for them to be lost. That makes this the slowest recovery since the Department of Labor began tracking job growth in 1939.
Though numerically employment has recovered, new jobs are not all in the same industries that cut the positions. More than 4 million construction and manufacturing jobs vanished during the recession and only about 1 million employees have returned. Professional office jobs have helped to make up the shortfall, having now gained more positions than were lost. Employment in this sector is at a record high. Health care has also been reporting solid growth for some time, keeping hiring up even while employment fell in other areas.
Energy industry expansion has also boosted some states above their 2008 employment levels, such as North Dakota which has 30 percent more workers than it did before the recession.