Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Nonfarm payrolls rose just 115,000 in April, about 50,000 lower than private forecasters were expecting. However, both February’s and March’s estimates were revised up, adding 53,000 in sum and providing a rough offset for April’s undershoot. Still, even after factoring in the upward revisions, nonfarm payrolls have averaged a monthly gain of 176,000 over the past 3 months, modestly decelerating from its pace of 218,000 over the previous 3-month span (November to January). Private payrolls appear to be following that trend as well, averaging 183,000 over the past 3 months, compared to a average gain of 230,000 over the 3 months prior. Despite the recent deceleration, the near-term trend in nonfarm payrolls is holding above its average gain over the past 12 months of 151,000 (169,000 for private payrolls). Goods-producing payrolls rose 14,000 in April, following a gain of 38,000 in March. Manufacturing employment (up 16,000) accounted for all of that increase, as mining and logging payrolls were flat and construction payrolls slipped down 2,000. After relatively strong gains in December and January (up 44,000 in total), construction employment has fallen by 6,000. If you were looking to tell a “mild-winter” story (that pulled forward some projects), this might be tentative evidence.
On the service side, professional and business services employment rose 62,000 in April (temporary help employment accounted for a third of the gain), in line with its near-term (3-month) average of 63,000. Retail trade payrolls increased by 29,000 in April, though this comes after declines of 21,000 in March and 15,000 in February. While auto sales and production have been a recent source of (relative) strength, employment in this sector has averaged just 2,400 over the past 3 months, compared to an average monthly gain near 4,000 over the year prior. Elsewhere on the service side, health and education payrolls rose 23,000 in April, slightly off its near-term average gain of 46,000. And leisure and hospitality payrolls rose 12,000 during the month, compared to an average gain of 26,000 over the past year.
On the household side, the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth to 8.1 percent, but not for “good” reasons. The number of employed persons (as measured by this survey) fell 169,000 in April, its sharpest decline since last June, and after factoring in a 31,000 decline in March, has started to undo some of its first quarter strength relative to nonfarm payrolls. While the number of unemployment persons fell as well in April (down 173,000), the civilian labor force shrank by 342,000 (its sharpest decline since January 2011). The labor force participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 63.6 percent in April, down 2.4 percentage points from the end of 2007.