In short, yes.
If we assume that SEO is all about optimizing your content such that a search engine can better understand it, then it's really a question about accessibility. I know that many people think of accessibility in terms of helping people with disabilities (e.g. visual, hearing, physical) but, as Shawn Henry from the W3C pointed out at HighEdWeb recently, search engines may be your most disabled customers. We should be excited about these new semantic elements because they give us an opportunity to provide more context in the machine-readable code, allowing us to simultaneously make our pages more accessible and SEO-friendly.
I always maintained that if you take care of accessibility, SEO will take care of itself. No need to get your <p> tags in a bunch.
Thanks for the link recommendations. They should be favorites for all HTML 5'ers.