The nation's high unemployment rate dropped in June, falling to 11.1% from 13.3%, as more Americans went back to work. Some 4.8 million jobs were added, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
Unemployment fell broadly, across demographic groups and levels of education, but remained in double-digits for all.
The leisure and hospitality sector led job gains, adding 2.1 million jobs as restaurants and bars across the country reopened. Retail generated 740,000 jobs, and education and health services added 568,000.
"One powerful revelation from today's jobs report is how swiftly U.S. job growth can bounce back once officials give employers the green light on reopening," economists at the jobs website Glassdoor wrote in a note.
"We know that we're still in a very deep economic hole, but it is nice to see the recovery proceed faster than we had expected," added Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao.
Indeed, employment in all sectors is far below where it was prior to March, when the coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a standstill.
Slower-to-recover industries like government and information services point to a deeper economic shock than that from widespread stay-at-home orders.
"The information sector was not really affected by the lockdowns, a lot of those jobs can be done from home, but what we're seeing now is the effects of the economic shock," Zhao said.
Leaving the labor force?
The unemployment rate of 11.1% also doesn't capture the number of people who left the job market altogether over the last few months. These people aren't counted in the unemployment rate, because they are not actively looking for work at the time the monthly survey is conducted by the Labor Department.
Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, noted that the labor force has shrunk by 4.6 million since February. That's double the number of jobs that were created during all of last year.
"It could take years for them to come back off the sidelines," Pollak said of the labor-force dropouts. "Some have likely exited the labor force permanently."
In addition, a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the South and West late last month has likely halted leisure industry gains as many of those businesses pull back on their reopenings.
A separate Labor Department survey released Thursday showed that 2.2 million Americans applied for jobless assistance or self-employed unemployment aid in the last week of June, indicating that historically high layoffs since early spring are continuing well into the summer.