The Labor Department report released Friday, which showed the jobless rate fall to 13.3 percent, defied even the most optimistic expectations among economists, who had been expecting job losses of more than eight million and a jobless rate of 20 percent or higher.
"In February, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate was 5.6%".
Nationally, employment numbers rose by a surprising 290,000, bringing some bright news to the country, where a total of three million jobs have been lost due to COVID-19.
Stocks - which have been staging a comeback, despite weekly reports of historically high unemployment filings - jumped on the report in pre-market trading.
"The surprisingly positive readings on employment paint a more optimistic picture of the early part of the recovery, but there's still a long road back".
Provincially, Quebec led the way, gaining 231,000 jobs as it became one of the first provinces to ease restrictions, doing so just before Statistics Canada collected data the week of May 10.
Similarly, all four provinces in Atlantic Canada posted jobs gains in May.
Canada's currency extended gains on the result, appreciating 0.6 per cent to $1.3423 against its USA counterpart at 8:47 a.m. Toronto time.
For hiring to continue at a solid pace, businesses will probably need to see signs that consumers are starting to resume their pre-outbreak habits of shopping and dining out.
After falling last week, the insured unemployment rate ticked up half a point to 14.8 percent - a huge number of Americans not working, but that only reflects those with unemployment benefits.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the jobless rate jumping to 19.8 per cent in May from 14.7 per cent in April. Brian DePratto, senior economist for TD Economics, notes that the labour force survey doesn't necessarily show how bad things are. The pandemic has especially eliminated jobs, at least temporarily, at restaurants, hotels, retail chains and other lower-wage industries.
Government saw the biggest shedding of jobs (585,000).
Rebounds were also weak for students and recent immigrants.