CHAPEL HILL (May 7, 2010) – The national employment report for April points to an improving labor market. Last month, employers added 290,000 more payroll jobs than they eliminated with gains occurring across a broad range of industries. Stabilizing conditions also drew many jobless individuals back into the labor force in attempts to find work.
“The payroll growth that occurred in April is good news, and overall conditions have improved throughout 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The problem is that growth still is not occurring at a pace needed to reverse the severe job losses that occurred during the recession. The employment landscape remains a difficult one to navigate.”
In April, the nation’s employers added 290,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. Gains occurred in both the public (+59,000) and private sectors (+231,000), as well as in most major industry groups. The largest gains occurred in professional and business services (+80,000), government (+59,000), leisure and hospitality services (+45,000), and manufacturing (+44,000). Losses occurred in the trade/transportation/utilities (-3,000) and information (-3,000) sectors.
“Nearly one-third of the payroll positions added in April were temporary ones connected to the private sector or the Census Bureau,” noted Quinterno. “When those positions end, the individuals holding those jobs likely will find themselves jobless again.”
The job growth experienced in April encouraged individuals who had stopped looking for work to resume their searches, a development that pushed up the unemployment rate. In April, 15.3 million Americans – 9.9 percent of the labor force – were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10.1 percent vs. 8.2 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.5 percent) than among White ones (9.0 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.4 percent.
Furthermore, newly available data show that 9.1 percent of all veterans were unemployed in April; the rate among veterans who had served since September 2001 was 13.1 percent.
“Improved labor market conditions led 805,000 individuals to enter the labor force last month, and one-quarter of unemployed individuals said they were re-entrants to the labor market,” added Quinterno. “Nevertheless, jobs remain difficult to find. In April, 45.9 percent of all unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months. Many other individuals simply stopped looking, and counting those individuals and those working part-time on an involuntary basis brings the underemployment rate to 17.1 percent.”
“The April employment report contains much positive news, but the bottom line is that conditions remain weak,” observed Quinterno. “Given the magnitude of the recession, improvements are not occurring at the levels needed to reverse past job losses anytime soon. We don’t just need positive growth, we need faster growth. Absent that, the recovery will unfold slowly.”