WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 339,000 jobs were added in May, beating expectations. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% (seasonally adjusted) from 3.4%, and unemployed persons rose to 6.1 million from 5.7 million. The labor force participation held steady at 62.6%. 

Women-specific data:

  • The unemployment rate for adult women rose to 3.3%.
  • The unemployment rate jumped to 5.3% from 4.4% for adult black women but fell to 3.4% from 4.1% for Hispanic women.
  • Women’s labor force participation rose marginally to 58.7%, still below its pre-pandemic level.

Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) at Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:

“Solid job growth for another month is good news. However, the jump in the unemployment rate may be a sign that layoffs are starting to be reflected in national figures. Nearly half a million people (440,000) lost jobs last month bringing the total number of unemployed Americans to 6.1 million. Take note of major demographic groups with job losses: women and blacks. 

“While women’s labor force participation nudged higher, a significant proportion of adult women lost their jobs, pushing their unemployment rate higher from 3.1% to 3.4%. Some women are likely starting their own businesses or moving from full employment to freelancing. Neither Congress nor the Biden administration should crack down on independent contracting through legislation like the PRO Act or new regulations. This risks destroying flexible earnings opportunities for women.

“Black men and women also suffered labor force setbacks. The unemployment rate for black men rose from 4.5 to 5.6% despite more black men joining the labor force. Conversely, black women’s labor force participation held steady even as their unemployment rate rose from 4.4 to 5.3%.

“The economy currently has over 10 million open positions, which gives unemployed workers ample new opportunities. However, a mismatch of skills, experience, or education is keeping millions of sidelined workers from employment. If one doesn’t have a four-year college degree or the right occupational license, he or she may be locked out of ready-and-waiting jobs or the ability to be in business for him- or herself. We should work to remove these hurdles.

“Public assistance benefits during the pandemic have been a disincentive to work. It’s critical that Congress continue to strengthen work requirements such as the reforms passed in the recent debt ceiling bill to ensure that as many Americans can get back into the workforce as possible.”

Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.