Roy Gilbert

The jobs report may signal whether workers are staying on the sidelines.

www.nytimes.com

As infections ebb and vaccinations spread, the economy has started to regain its footing, but job growth has bounced up and down in recent months.James Estrin/The New York Times The Labor Department will release its May jobs report Friday morning, offering a fresh look at a labor market in which millions remain out of work but many employers say they are having trouble finding applicants.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect the May report to show that employers added 650,000 jobs last month — more than twice the disappointing tally in April — and that the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent.

The labor market has started to regain its footing, but the path has not been smooth. Job growth bounced up and down in recent months, and may continue its uneven progress throughout the summer, analysts said.

“I think the end is in sight,” said Carl R. Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, “but it’s going to be a long and winding road back to full employment.”

A second month of weak growth could signal that the recovery is faltering, or that the economy’s swift reopening will take time to sort out. A strong report could offer evidence that talk of a labor shortage was overblown — or that employers have addressed it by increasing wages. [ Here are some indicators that economists are watching to gauge the recovery .]

Job postings are far above where they were in February 2020, before the wave of coronavirus cases hit. At the […]

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