The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the official jobs report Friday and the news was good. The unemployment rate fell sharply to 6.3 percent, 288,000 jobs were added and the number of unemployed fell by 733,000. The unemployment rate has not been this low since mid 2008. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.9 million persons.
The BLS also revised the February job numbers upward to 222,000 from the 197,000 jobs they reported at the time. They also increased March totals to 203,000 up from the 192,000 they reported last month. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March were 36,000 higher than previously reported.
This report shows that in the second quarter, the economy is rebounding after stalling in the first quarter due to the severe winter storms that kept businesses closed, shoppers home, and goods undelivered. The FED saw this coming because they decided to continue ending their monetary stimulus program.
Of the 288,000 jobs added, 273,000 were private sector jobs. Job growth averaged 190,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In April, the gains in employment were widespread with gains in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.
The federal government continued its four-year run of cutting jobs. Another 3,000 federal workers got pink slips in April. The Postal Service, added 800 jobs, temporarily halting its lay-off program. State governments added a thousand new jobs, but local governments went on a hiring spree, adding 17,000 employees, most of them in education.
Professional and business services hired 75,000 new people in April for an average of 55,000 per month over the last 12 months. Employment growth continued in temporary help services which added 24,000 workers, 12,000 in management positions and 9,000 in computer systems design and related services. This is seen as an indicator of future job growth.
Retail trade employment rose by 35,000 in April showing consumers started spending after they were forced indoors during the winter. Food and beverage stores added 9,000 jobs, general merchandise stores were up 8,000, motor vehicle and parts dealers added 6,000, and online retailers hired 4,000. Electronics and appliance stores, however, cut 11,000 jobs in April. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 327,000.
Wholesale trade added 16,000 jobs over the month. In April, employment rose in food services and drinking places 33,000 in line with its prior 12-month average gain of 28,000 per month.
In April, the construction industry rebounded after a winter stall. Employment in construction grew by 32,000, with job growth in heavy and civil engineering construction which added 11,000 and residential building added 7,000 jobs. Construction has added 189,000 jobs over the past year, with almost three-fourths of the gain occurring in the past 6 months.
Health care added another 19,000 in April, about in line with the prior 12-month average gain of 17,000 per month debunking claims ObamaCare was killing jobs in the industry. Employment in other services, which includes membership associations and personal and laundry services, rose by 15,000 over the month. Mining added 10,000 jobs in April, with most of the gain in support activities up 7,000 positions.
Economists expected about 200,000 jobs, so this beat expectations. The bad news on the horizon is that this summer the highway trust fund will go broke and in September the government’s authority to collect the gas tax ends unless congress acts. This would put millions out of work. Congress is not even working on the issue as of yet, so the good job numbers may only be temporary thanks to Congress.