Employment Improves in April

May 23, 2013

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.

The BLS also revised its February and March jobs reports upward, adding another 114,000 jobs to the two-month period. This gives February the highest one-month job creation increase in almost three years.

Although the unemployment rate has dropped 0.4% (673,000) since January, it was essentially unchanged in April at 7.5% (11.7 million).

Professional and business services added 73,000 jobs in April (a total of 587,000 over the past year), with other gains in temporary help services (+31,000 jobs), professional and technical services (+23,000 jobs), and management of companies (+7,000 jobs).

Just fewer than 12 million individuals are currently engaged in the manufacture of durable goods (7.52 million) and nondurable goods (4.47 million).  This figure was essentially unchanged in April, following meager gains of 2,000 jobs added in March. Revisions to the February and March data added 9,000 workers to those two months, but over the past 12 months, the sector has actually lost 10,000 jobs.

Durable goods industries added 1,000 workers in April, but this was counteracted by a net decline of 1,000 in nondurable goods businesses. Manufacturing sectors with employment gains for the month included machinery (+3,600), transportation equipment (+3,000, including 2,400 from motor vehicles), fabricated metal products (+2,500), and food manufacturing (+2,300). Those sectors with losses in April included printing and related support activities (-3,100), apparel (-2,900), computer and electronic products (-2,000), wood products (-1,700), and nonmetallic mineral products (-1,300).

Overall compensation in the manufacturing sector declined slightly; average weekly earnings decreased from $985.73 in March to $982.91 in April. This was due in part to a dip in average hours worked (40.7/week in April, down from 40.8/week in March. Average overtime hours dropped from 3.4 to 3.3 hours/week.