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US unemployment rate unexpectedly falls in May

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The US unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in May and layoffs abated, the Labor Department said on Friday in a report that showed the latest signs the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was bottoming.

[WASHINGTON] The US unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in May and layoffs abated, the Labor Department said on Friday in a report that showed the latest signs the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was bottoming.

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report showed the jobless rate dropped to 13.3 per cent last month from 14.7 per cent in April. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.509 million jobs after a record plunge of 20.687 million in April.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the jobless rate jumping to 19.8 per cent in May from 14.7 per cent in April. Nonfarm payrolls for May had been expected to fall by 8 million jobs.

The jobs market improved considerably in the second half of May as businesses reopened after shuttering in mid-March to slow the spread of Covid-19. Consumer confidence, manufacturing and services industries are also stabilising, though at low levels, signs the worst was over. 

REUTERS

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