U.S. job growth likely accelerated in May as vaccinations eased the pandemic’s grip on the economy, but companies faced difficulties hiring, with millions of unemployed Americans at home because of childcare problems and generous unemployment checks, leaving open the chance for another letdown in job creation.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday could offer assurance that the recovery from the pandemic recession was on track after worker shortages also blamed on lingering fears over COVID-19 sharply restrained employment growth in April, which delivered roughly a quarter of the new jobs economists had forecast.
Slower hiring stirred debate among some economists that growth was stagnating at a time when inflation was rising.
“With the reopening of the economy, we should be seeing very strong job growth,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “The supply constraints are problematic, but it doesn’t mean that’s going to prevent the economy from continuing to recover. The U.S. is not experiencing stagflation and it won’t over the next few years.”
According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 650,000 jobs last month after rising only 266,000 in April. That would leave employment about 7.6 million jobs below its peak in February 2020.