A new report shows that the American employment situation marginally improved in April, but new revisions to prior reports make March’s meager job gains look even worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning that U.S. non-farm employers added 223,000 jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate down to 5.4% from 5.5%. The BLS also said Friday that employers added just 85,000 jobs in March, down from the original 126,000 estimate.
The 223,000 jobs added in April was just below the economist consensus, which was calling for job gains of 224,000.
“It’s a bit of a relief; you see a nice bounce-off from March,” Ronald Sanchez, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Company International, said of April’s job gains However, he added, “the question is about the pace of the bounce-back. Today we got a sign that we are getting a little bit of a bounce-back but it was far from a robust number.”
The BLS said gains occurred from professional and business services (which added 62,000 jobs), health care (which added 45,000 jobs) and construction (which also added 45,000 jobs). Mining employment continued its decline: the sector lost 15,000 jobs in April, with 10,000 of those jobs in the mining activities space and 3,000 losses from oil and gas extraction. Since the start of 2015, the mining sector has lost 49,000 jobs.
“A lot of these numbers aren’t surprising,” Dr. Tara Sinclair, chief economist at job-searching site Indeed.com, said of the industry breakdown. Sinclair explained that the mining job losses are a result of lower oil prices, and the big question is whether the people losing mining jobs will find jobs in sectors that benefit from low oil prices. “People are spending money in other directions that are creating new jobs in other areas,” Sinclair said, but “that hasn’t happened as quickly as we were expecting.”
In addition to March’s downward revision, February’s job gains were revised up from 264,000 to 266,000. With these revisions, the BLS said, job gains in February and March combined were 39,000 lower than what was originally reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 191,000 per month.
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