But the 13.3 percent unemployment rate still represents a historic high.
A separate report showing state data on weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits show over 42 million people have lost their jobs, at least temporarily, since mid-March when the shutdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 began.
Even with the surprising gain in May, it may take months for all those who lost work in April and March to find jobs.
A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, dipped to 21.2% in May from 22.8% in April.
Canada's jobless rate has reached a record 13.7 percent, although the country added 290,000 jobs in May after two months of layoffs due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
While the unemployment rate for white Americans was 12.4% May, it was 17.6% for Hispanics and 16.8% for African-Americans.
"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".
Combined with people working more hours, the province recovered almost 30 per cent of what it lost in March and April. Western provinces posted gains except for Saskatchewan, which saw little overall change in employment, Statistics Canada said.
For workers to count as unemployed, they must have searched for work during the last four weeks or be on temporary layoff.
The unemployment rate in the U.S. improved unexpectedly last month raising hopes that economic damage tied to the pandemic will be less harmful than feared.
But the department noted that a higher-than-usual number of people indicated they were employed but not at work for "other reasons" and suspect that they are misclassified.
However, the unemployment rate is still on par with numbers seen during the Great Depression, the report said. Brian DePratto, senior economist for TD Economics, notes that the labour force survey doesn't necessarily show how bad things are.
Many people are still working, but had their hours cut - perhaps because they were a server at a restaurant that is now just doing takeout or they work at a grocery store that reduced the hours it is open.