Economy Watch: Employment Gain More Modest in April

Employment gains in February and March combined were also 30,000 more than previously reported, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation, April 2018

Total U.S. payroll employment increased by 164,000 in April, compared with an average monthly gain of 191,000 over the previous 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. The change in total employment for February was revised down slightly from a gain of 326,000 to one 324,000, while the change for March was revised up from a gain of 103,000 to 135,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 30,000 more than previously reported.

Some of the April’s gains were in sectors of the economy that help drive office or industrial space absorption. For instance, employment in professional and business services increased by 54,000. Over the past 12 months, those industries has added 518,000 jobs.

Employment in manufacturing increased by 24,000 in April, with most of the gain in the durable goods component. Manufacturing employment has risen by 245,000 during the last 12 months, with about three-fourths of the growth in durable goods industries.

Worker pay rose in April, but the gains are still fairly modest. During the month, average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.84. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 67 cents, or 2.6 percent, which is ahead of the rate of inflation (hovering around 2 percent), but not by much.

In April, the headline unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, following six months at 4.1 percent, noted the BLS. The bureau’s alternate measurement of unemployment, the U-6, which includes people only marginally attached to the workforce, came in at 7.8 percent in April, down from 8 percent in March, and 8.6 percent a year earlier.