Hiring slowed in April, this morning’s report from the Labor Department shows. Total nonfarm employment increased by 160,000 jobs, despite economists’ earlier predictions that the report would reflect the addition of around 200,000 jobs to public- and private-sector payrolls. Unemployment remained at 5 percent.
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“The April employment report paints a mixed picture,” said Harry Holzer, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor and author of Where Are All The Good Jobs Going?, in a statement. “On the one hand, payroll growth was a modest 160,000 jobs – disappointing to those who had hoped for a stronger start to the second quarter. …The labor force participation rate also dropped .2 percentage points, which is disappointing after about six months of increase. This month’s dip might be mostly driven by retirements, but the apparent pause in the return to the labor force of those who had early dropped out is disappointing. We’ll have to see if that lasts.”
Holzer also notes that “wages rose significantly, at a 3.8 percent annual clip for all workers and 2.8 percent for production and nonsupervisory workers. This follows a notable increase last month. With inflation still below 2 percent, workers are starting to see some benefits of the tightening labor market over the previous few years in terms of higher earnings.”
Average hourly earnings increased in April by 8 cents to $25.53, following an increase of 6 cents the previous month. The PayScale Index, which tracks wages for employed U.S. workers, forecasts a 2 percent year-over-year increase in pay for the second quarter of 2016.
The average workweek for private-sector employees also increased, rising 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The number of long-term unemployed – those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer – declined by 150,000 to 2.1 million. The labor force participation rate decreased to 62.8 percent.
The following industries added jobs last month: professional and business services (+65,000 jobs), healthcare (+44,000 jobs), and financial activities (+20,000 jobs). Mining declined (-7,000 jobs), and other industries showed little change, including construction, manufacturing, retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, government, and leisure and hospitality.
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