BLS Employment Situation Report: April 2016

Unemployment holds steady

Job growth in April was a bit disappointing with the U.S. economy adding only 160,000 jobs, much lower than the approximately 202,000 roles predicted by economists. This marked the lowest number of job gains in seven months. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent.

The labor force participation rate lowered slightly by 0.02 percent, coming in at 62.8 percent for April. The employment-population ratio was also down slightly, at 59.7 percent. There was a 150,000 decline in the long-term unemployed to 2.1 million last month.

Concerns that slowed economic growth is flowing over into the labor market has led to doubt on whether or not the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Hourly earnings rise

Despite the stepdown in job gains, average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose 0.3 percent from last month. Increasing 8 cents, the average hourly earnings for April was $25.53. Wages advanced 2.5 percent from a year previous, stronger than the advance in March.

There was an 0.1 hour increase in the average workweek for private-sector workers to 34.5 hours in March.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the economy should still be able to grow without excessive job gains. Last year, Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said that an increase of 100,000 jobs each month is adequate for retaining new entrants to the labor force.

“The labor market is healing,” Ms. Yellen said last month. “We’re coming close to our assigned congressional goal of maximum employment.”

Job gains in several sectors, mining employment declines

April saw employment growth in healthcare, professional and business services and  financial activities. However, the mining industry saw a loss in jobs, down 7,000.

Jobs in the healthcare field increased by 44,000 with 23,000 of those positions in hospitals and 19,000 in ambulatory health care services. The industry has seen a 502,000 increase in jobs over the year.

The professional and business service sector has added an average of 51,000 jobs each month in the past year, bringing in 65,000 new employees in April. Management and technical consulting services grew the most with 21,000 job gains, followed by computer systems design and related services at 7,000.

In the past 12 months, financial activities has added 160,000 jobs, creating another 20,000 last month. Credit intermediation and related activities added 8,000 jobs.

Job growth in other industries including construction, manufacturing, retail trade and leisure and hospitality saw little change throughout the month.