The jobless rate ticked down slightly in April, while a respectable number of jobs were added, and previous months were revised substantially in a positive direction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report found that the labor-force-participation rate remains unchanged, and the report beats expectations, which were about 140,000. Government payrolls continued to shrink, shedding 11,000 jobs (in federal non-postal jobs, employment decreased by 4,900), while health care, as always, remained a job creator, and the leisure industry (food and beverage, etc.) added 43,000 jobs.
The total revisions to the already-strong February (from 268,000 to 332,000) and disappointing March number (from 88,000 to 138,000) adds up to 114,000 jobs more than had been previously counted. This makes the average jobs growth over the past three months 212,000, and 196,000 a month on the year.
If one takes a very simplistic view of recent labor-market reports, sequestration, which began in March, now looks to have slowed growth (as the Fed said this week, “fiscal policy is restraining economic growth”), but certainly not halted or reversed it. There are, of course, many other things going on.
One interesting note: While average hourly earnings rose slightly, always a positive sign, average hours worked per week went down a little, leading to an overall slight reduction in take-home pay.