US unemployment rate falls to 4.4%; 211k jobs added in April

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities, and mining.

Household Survey Data

Both the unemployment rate, at 4.4%, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, changed little in April. Over the year, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has fallen by 854,000. (See table A-1.) Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men declined to 4.0 percent in April. The jobless rates for adult women (4.1%), teenagers (14.7%), Whites (3.8%), Blacks (7.9%), Asians (3.2%), and Hispanics (5.2%) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.6 million in April and accounted for 22.6 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 433,000. (See table A-12.) The labor force participation rate, at 62.9%, changed little in April and has shown little movement over the past year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.2%, was also little changed over the month but was up by 0.5 percentage point since December. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 281,000 to 5.3 million in April. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. During the past 12 months, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons has decreased by 698,000. (See table A-8.)

In April, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 181,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) 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. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 455,000 discouraged workers in April, down by 113,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in April had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 in April. Employment rose in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities, and mining. (See table B-1.) In April, leisure and hospitality added 55,000 jobs. Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up over the month (+26,000) and has increased by 260,000 over the year.

Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 37,000 in April. Health care employment continued to trend up over the month (+20,000). This is in line with the industry's average monthly job growth during the first quarter of this year but below the average gain of 32,000 per month in 2016. Social assistance added 17,000 jobs in April, with all of the gain in individual and family services.

In April, financial activities added 19,000 jobs, with insurance carriers and related activities accounting for most of the gain (+14,000). Over the year, financial activities has added 173,000 jobs. Employment in mining rose by 9,000 in April, with most of the increase in support activities for mining (+7,000). Since a recent low in October 2016, mining has added 44,000 jobs, with three-fourths of the gain in support activities for mining. Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in April (+39,000). The industry has added 612,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little change over the month. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in April. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $26.19. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5%. In April, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $21.96. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised up from +219,000 to +232,000, and the change for March was revised down from +98,000 to +79,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 6,000 lower than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. During the past three months, job gains have averaged 174,000.

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The Employment Situation for May is scheduled to be released on Friday, June 2, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
 

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