Even so, Canada's unemployment rate of 13.7 per cent is at its highest level since it began collecting comparable data in 1976, Statistics Canada said in its monthly labour survey report released today.
However, as it has for the past two months, the Labor Department said the jobless rate was likely three points higher due to errors in how workers described their job status. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the unemployment rate jumping to 19.8% in May and payrolls falling by 8 million jobs.
Additionally, the number of permanent job losses increased by 295,000 to 2.3 million. The number of unemployed who were jobless less than five weeks decreased by 10.4 million to 3.9 million. Hotels and motels still lost more jobs in May (148,000).
Construction was another sector that saw big improvements, increasing employment by 464,000 in May and gaining back nearly half of April's decline of 1 million.
According to numbers out of Statistics Canada, Manitoba reported an unemployment rate of 11.2 per cent for the month of May, which is down slightly from 11.4 per cent in April.
As well, someone can be working but may not be getting as many hours as in the past.
In retail, the sector added 368,000 jobs, after a loss of 2.3 million in April.
"As more and more workplaces begin to reopen, there's reason for increased confidence amongst consumers, which is critical to our recovery", she said. At the same time, employment rose by 15,000 in the goods-producing sector, driven by the manufacturing industry.
The unemployment rate is a measure of the people looking for work who can't find it, meaning it can actually decline if job-seekers give up, or increase as formerly discouraged seekers see new signs of hope. The survey suggests that may be an indication that employers' initial adaptation to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions involved re-hiring former employees or finding new workers.