Nonfarm payroll employment edged up (+88,000) in April, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Job gains continued in several service-providing industries, including health care and food services, while employment declined in retail trade and manufacturing.
An important note. The BLS has issued some very sweeping revisions to employment reports for the last 5 years. That means this number could be subject to an upward revision in the coming months.
Let's look a bit deeper into the numbers.
Goods producing dropped 28,000, with construction dropping 11,000. My guess is the increase in non-residential construction is absorbing some of the losses from residential construction.
Education and health was up 53,000. The education and health category has a steady increase for the last 5 years. So long as the US population continues to age, this trend will probably continue. So basically, the employment report can count on this category to continually add jobs to the figures.
Government increased 25,000. The fact that government employment is responsible for about 30% of total monthly employment growth should raise a few eyebrows. When the public sector is responsible for a pretty large chunk of job growth there might be a problem.
Retail lost 26,000 jobs. Remember these are April numbers, so we're beyond letting people go for the Christmas season. While productivity increases may be responsible for some of the losses, retail is still pretty dependent on the "human touch". That means that letting people go could mean retail sales are not where people want them to be.
Here's a graph of the y/t change in retail sales from Martin Capital. Note they are still strong, but have been declining for the last year or so.
This is not a good report. Expectations were for a low number anyway, and the initial report was below those expectations.