U.S. Workforce Analysis: May 2024

Our monthly workforce analysis has been updated to include the latest employment report for May. The unemployment rate inched up to 4.0%, its highest level since January 2022, and the number of new non-farm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 272K.

The Unemployment Rate

The closely watched headline unemployment rate is a calculation of the percentage of the civilian labor force, age 16 and older, that is currently unemployed. In the latest report, this indicator inched up to 4.0% which was higher than the forecasted 3.9% rate. This marks the first time in the past 28 months that the unemployment rate has been 4.0% or higher, ending its longest streak since the late 60s. Let's put this metric into its historical context. The first chart below illustrates this monthly data point since 1990.

Unemployment Rate since 1990

The age 16+ population increased by 182,000 and the labor force decreased by 250,000. The breakdown of the growth is an decrease of 408,000 employed and a 157,000 increase in the unemployed.