Employment Declined for Fourth Month in April; Construction Employment Saw Biggest Drop Since February 2007

Washington, D.C.–U.S. employment dropped for the fourth consecutive month in April, but fell at a slower pace than in the months prior–indicating the economy may be leveling out, according to government data released Friday.Factory orders grew beyond forecasts in March; services employment recovered, but manufacturing and construction firms continued to reduce jobs, The Wall Street Journal reports.The results also included an unexpected drop in the jobless rate.Nonfarm payrolls fell 20,000, according to the Labor Department. In March, they dropped 81,000; in February, nonfarm payrolls fell 83,000. Both were revised to indicate bigger declines.Construction employment fell by 61,000–the 10th-consecutive drop and the biggest since February 2007. Residential building was the most affected. Manufacturing firms also eliminated 46,000 jobs. The unemployment rate–estimated using a separate survey–dropped slightly to 5 percent. Unemployment decreased, and employment increased by 362,000.Additional information indicated that wage costs were manageable and that weakness in the labor market hadn’t caused a huge decline in spending.However, the future of consumer spending is not certain. According to the Journal, economists are concerned that employment issues and rising food and energy prices could seriously weigh on household spending in the coming months.