Workplace Trends

April Registers Weak Job Growth; Unemployment Falls to 8.1%

By Lee Hecht Harrison on May 8, 2012

The BLS’s latest “Employment Situation Summary” reports the unemployment rate in April 2012 fell to 8.1 percent, the lowest rate since January 2009. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by +115,000 in April 2012, a decline from the +154,000 gain in March and the +252,000 per month average from December to February.  A positive note in April’s report is the continued growth of manufacturing jobs (+16,000) with 489,000 positions added since January 2010.

Hiring rose in a number of industries, including the following:

  • Healthcare and social assistance:  Healthcare and social assistance employment continued to increase by adding +19,000 jobs over the month, with ambulatory health care services (including physician offices and home health care) rising by +15,000.
  • Leisure and hospitality:  In April, employment in food services and drinking places once again registered a gain (+20,000). 
  • Manufacturing: April figures indicate manufacturing employment rose by +16,000 with gains in fabricated metal products (+6,000) and machinery (+5,000).  Manufacturing has shown steady growth since January 2010, adding +489,000 jobs, primarily in durable goods manufacturing.
  • Financial activities:  Employment in the financial arena remained essentially the same as March, with some gain in the insurance carriers and related activities segment (from March’s +2,277 to April’s +2,290).
  • Professional and business services: Professional and business services (+62,000) reported increases in temporary help (+21,000), architectural and engineering services (+7,000) and computer systems design (+7,000).
  • Retail trade: Employment in this category increased by +29,000 over the month, with general merchandise stores adding +21,000 jobs in April, employment in building materials and garden supplies stores continuing to rise (+19,000) since December 2010.

In April 2012, 2.36 million Americans were “marginally attached” to the labor force, while in April 2011, the number was 2.46 million. As defined by the Department of Labor, “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.”

Experts speculate the economic recovery is still being hampered by the sluggish housing market and the long-term impact of the financial crisis.

Source: BLS

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