Last month’s employment report included a preliminary estimate of total non-farm payroll growth of 120 thousand in March – disappointing. Today’s report includes a preliminary estimate of 115 thousand added jobs in April – more disappointing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation report for April today. Payrolls increased by 115 thousand in April, the February and March estimates were revised upward adding 53 thousand for those months, and the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth to 8.1 percent, based on 342 thousand people leaving the labor force, rather than employment growth. The average workweek for most workers was unchanged, but up slightly in manufacturing.
Not exactly encouraging. But it’s still possible that the slowdown in job growth is payback for a warm winter, making the distribution over the months misleading. And with the current average monthly gain hovering around 200 thousand, labor market conditions are not great, but not awful either. Growth in GDP appears to have slowed in the first quarter (probably, but we won’t know for certain until the revisions), but the expectation is that it will pick up again as the year progresses, and that should contribute to a strengthening in the labor market. It’s a little early to call the momentum lost.
Overall, today’s report is disappointing, but it’s not the last word.