April Showers Means More Jobs for the Economy

If you were expecting a weak jobs report, this was the wrong first Friday of the month for you. ADP had telegraphed a very strong private sector payrolls report earlier in the week, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has just confirmed that trends were accurate.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 263,000 in April and private sector payrolls rose by some 236,000 in April. The Wall Street Journal had posted consensus estimates of 190,000 for nonfarm payrolls.

The official unemployment rate was expected to remain flat at 3.8%, but that rate fell down to 3.6% in April. That appears to be the lowest level since the end of 1969, and it was attributed to the labor force shrinking by 500,000 and the labor force participation rate ticked down to 62.8% from 63.0%.

Average hourly wages outpaced inflation with a gain of 3.2% from a year earlier, just under the Wall Street Journal’s consensus estimate of 3.3% for April.

The percentage of workers without jobs and those who are discouraged or are working part-time and unable to find full-time jobs was flat at a rate of 7.3% in April.

Similar to ADP, the BLS report showed hiring strength led in the business and professional services jobs, as well as in construction services and health care. State, local and federal government jobs rose by 27,000 in April.

The BLS also breaks down the unemployment rates by sex and by race, with April’s tally as follows:

  • Adult men. 3.4%
  • Adult women, 3.1%
  • Whites, 3.1%
  • Asians, 2.2%
  • Hispanics, 4.2%
  • Blacks, 6.7%
  • Teenagers, 13.0%

The BLS further said of April’s job market:

In April, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little different from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey… Among the marginally attached, there were 454,000 discouraged workers in April, about unchanged from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 963,000 persons marginally attached to the labor force in April had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

This was one of those months where ADP’s forward indication was proven to be directionally correct.

The markets remained on firm ground, with the Dow Jones industrials indicated up over 130 points (+0.5%) early Friday and the S&P 500 indicated up 15 points (+0.5%).