April Jobs Report Comes in Better Than Expected

May 3rd, 2013 at 9:02 am

Payrolls increased by 165,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.5%, in a jobs report that painted a considerably brighter picture than last month’s version.  In fact, the disappointing 88,000 payroll gain for March was revised up in today’s report to 138,000, and in February, new revisions show a large increase of 332,000 jobs.

That means employers added 114,000 more jobs in February and March than we thought, bringing the monthly average payroll gains over the past three months to a healthy 212,000 per month.  Job growth at that pace, if it persists, should be enough to gradually, albeit slowly, bring down the unemployment rate.  In fact, the decline in the jobless rate from 7.6% in March to 7.5% in April was due not to a shrinking labor force (i.e., people giving up looking for work) but to more people getting jobs.

Those looking for losses in sequester-sensitive industries could see some evidence in the report, as construction (down 6,000), government (down 11,000), and manufacturing (zero jobs added) all came in weak.  Thus, all of the job gains last month came from private, service producing industries.  Also, in signs that labor demand is still not strong enough, wage growth remains subdued, up 1.9% over the past year, and average weekly hours ticked down last month.

But the bottom line is that the April numbers, along with the revisions to earlier months, reveal a considerably healthier job market than we thought, with accelerating gains in hiring and a slowly declining unemployment rate.  Key industries, like manufacturing, construction, and especially government still bear close watching, and the on-again, off-again pattern of these jobs reports suggests that the economy’s growth is not as solidly linked to the labor market as we need it to be.

But we’re headed in the right direction, even if it’s in fits and starts.

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4 comments in reply to "April Jobs Report Comes in Better Than Expected"

  1. oli3 says:

    So, without the sequester, we’d be somewhat on our way to breaking free from the liquidity trap… hmmm…

  2. save_the_rustbelt says:

    Low hours, low pay, poor benefits…….

    A Chamber of Commerce dream scenario. not so good for the work force.

  3. longwalkdownlyndale says:

    I have to admit I only started following the whole Jobs Day scene during the 2012 presidential race, though now I’m hooked. But the more I watch, the more I’d wish we all didn’t, the revisions seem to be as important as the monthly number, if not more so. Indeed the “good news” in the survey is mainly contained in the revisions of past months no?

  4. April’s jobs report, March’s income & outlays and trade deficit, February’s Case-Shiller | r.j.'s space says:

    […] the April unemployment report was better than expected, and positive revisions of nonfarm payrolls over the past two months took some of the sting out of the lousy jobs report in March… the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that seasonally adjusted payroll jobs rose 165,000 and the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.5% in April; in addition, the establishment survey payroll job numbers were revised to show 138,000 jobs added in March instead of the 88,000 reported last month, and 332,000 jobs added in February, up from the 268,000 reported last month and the originally reported 236,000…according to the establishment survey, 73,000 professional and business service jobs were added in April, of which 22,800 were in professional and technical services and 30,800 were in temporary help services; another 38,000 jobs were added by restaurants and bars, and 29,000 were in retail, 15,000 of which were in general merchandise stores..and another 19,000 were in health care, more than accounted for by the 14,000 in ambulatory care services and 7,000 in social services…net government payrolls were down 11,000 workers, including 8,000 at the federal level, suggesting a minimal impact from the sequester to date…jobs in construction were little changed, with 13,300 new jobs in residential construction more than offset by almost 14,000 less jobs in nonresidential buildings and civil engineering; likewise, payrolls jobs in both durable and non durable goods manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and financial activities were little changed for the month…however, with the increase in payroll jobs came a significant drop in the average workweek for all employees on private payrolls; from 34.6 hours in March to 34.4 hours in April; in manufacturing, the workweek was down 0.1 hour to 40.7 and overtime was also down 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours, while the average workweek for production and non-supervisory employees slipped to 33.7 hours; to show the significance of this, zero hedge took that decline of 0.2 hours in the workweek and multiplied it by the 135,474,000 payroll jobs reported this week and figured that the workweek decline was the equivalent of a loss of 618,000 payroll jobs; partially offsetting that cut in hours, the average hourly earnings for all private payroll employees rose by 4 cents to $23.87, while nonsupervisory employees saw their pay edge up by 2 cents to $20.06 an hour…our FRED graph shows total number of employees in manufacturing in blue, those employed in retail in green, and those employed in construction in red… […]