Job Growth Jumps In April; So Does Unemployment Rate

May 6, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

The unemployment rate climbed in April, but the 244,000 new jobs created during the month was the largest increase in a year, swamping economists’ predictions. They were expecting the unemployment rate to remain at 8.8 percent and about a 185,000 increase in jobs.

The numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning showed 268,000 private sector jobs added in April, the fastest hiring rate in five years.

Every industry sector showed growth except for government, which was off 24,000 jobs; 14,000 of those lost jobs were in local government. The service sector added 244,000 jobs, while the goods-producing sector, which includes construction (up 5,000) and manufacturing (up 29,000) increased by 44,000.

In April last year the economy added 277,000 jobs, but most of those were temporary workers hired to conduct the annual census. Nearly all of them, as well as the 458,000 hired in May, have since been laid off.

Retail had the strongest growth, adding 57,000 new jobs, nearly half in general merchandise. Automobile dealers added 5,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality hiring was also brisk, adding 46,000 jobs during the month. The BLS noted that the sector has increased its job count by 151,000, nearly two-thirds of them in food services and drinking establishments.

However, the government’s household survey, which is part of the monthly employment situation report, showed millions of people still struggling to find jobs. The count of the unemployed edged up slightly in April to 13.7 million, though it is below January’s 13.9 million and is below the 15.1 million in April last year.

Long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks, declined by 283,000 to 5.8 million. Another 8.6 million are working at part-time jobs because they can’t find full time work, while 2.5 million more are considered “marginally attached” to the labor force. They are not officially unemployed because they didn’t actively search for work during the government’s survey period.

The involuntary part-time workers numbered 9.1 million in April a year ago. But otherwise, those numbers haven’t changed much in the year. There was an increase, however, in the number of workers unemployed for less than five weeks. The count increased just over 240,000 to 2.691 million, just slightly lower than the 2.695 million of a year ago.

Thursday, the Labor Department’s report of new unemployment claims showed a jump of 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 474,000. Economists had been expecting a decline to 412,000. New claims hit a three-year low of 375,000 in February, but have been edging up since.

The BLS also upped the jobs numbers for February and March, increasing the counts by 41,000 and 5,000 respectively.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.