Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- Employment Situation
Nonfarm payrolls rose 244,000 in April (surprising expectations to the upside) bringing its average gain over the past three months to 233,000, compared to its 12-month average increase of just 109,000. Revisions to the prior two months’ estimates added 46,000 in sum, perhaps making the headline increase a little more encouraging. Private payrolls rose 268,000 in April—its largest monthly increase since February 2006—and are averaging a gain just north of 250,000 over the past three months. Private payrolls gains have been outpacing total payrolls lately because state and local governments are shedding employees (down 142,000 in the last six months, an average loss of 24,000 per month). Employment gains were broad-based across major industries in April. Interestingly, the only decrease came from temporary help services (slipping down 2,300), which may be an indication that firms are becoming less timid with respect to permanent hires. Goods-producing employment increased 44,000 in April, compared to a 37,000 increase in March. Manufacturing employment rose 29,000 during the month, accounting for most of the increase in the goods sector. Manufacturing payrolls have swelled by 141,000 through the first four months of 2011, and are up 250,000 since a cyclical low in December 2009. Service-sector employment rose by 224,000 in April, a slight acceleration compared to March’s increase of 194,000. Retail trade payrolls rose 57,100 in April, its largest monthly gain since April 2000, though about half of that increase looks to be noise, as employment in general merchandise stores rose 27,400 rebounding from a decrease of 26,600 in March. Leisure and hospitality payrolls rose by 46,000 in April, following gains of 51,000 in March and 54,000 in February. The largest driver of this gain is employment at food services and drinking places, which have averaged a gain of 32,400 over the past three months, compared to just 3,000 over the prior three months. Elsewhere in the service-sector, health care and education employment rose 42,000 and professional and business services employment increased 26,000 (again, without a boost from temporary help services). The household side of the report didn’t mesh with the positive signs from the establishment survey (a not-all-too uncommon occurrence on a monthly frequency). The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage point to 9.0 percent in April as the number of unemployed persons increased by 200,000. The labor force was roughly unchanged during the month. Also, the employment-to-population ratio edged down a tenth to 58.4 percent in April.