Putting the April Jobs Report in Context

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that nonfarm payrolls grew by 10,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.7% in April.

Resident Unemployment

Over the month, the labor force was essentially unchanged as the number of residents reporting employment rose by 0.4% and the number reporting they were unemployed fell by 5.6%.

Over the year the story is more mixed as the fall in the unemployment rate of 1.9 percentage points was a mixed bag of a shrinking resident labor force (down 0.6%) but an encouraging rise in resident employment (up 1.4%).

Nonfarm Employment

To get back to an economy where we see growth in the earnings of middle income families we need the Pennsylvania labor market to generate on average about 9,000 jobs a month.  In this respect the gain of 10,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April is right on target. 

On the other hand the recent pattern of nonfarm employment growth is not as impressive with the commonwealth adding about 2,700 jobs a month in the first four months of this year.

As Figure 1 illustrates payroll growth in the most recent twelve months has improved relative to what it was in the same period a year ago but the pace of job growth remains well short of what it was in the first year of the recovery.

Industry by Industry 

The next seven charts summarize the trend in monthly job creation by industry in Pennsylvania from May to April of each year since 2010.

Contrary to what you might hear at Marcellus shale rally employment growth in Manufacturing has been very weak with the sector shedding jobs in the last two years (Figure 2). Since I mentioned Marcellus shale I should probably add that employment in Minining and Logging was unchanged in April and is up 600 jobs since April of last year. 

Employment growth in Construction in the last 12 months is relatively strong but here again remember this sector is still just barely beginning a recovery from a historic decline in employment (Figure 3).

As usual the public sector in Pennsylvania remains a significant drag on overall employment growth although the pace of losses has slowed to just under half of what it was during the initial big wave of teacher layoffs (Figure 4).

Like most states with weak overall employment growth, Leisure and Hospitality is the one consistent strength in terms of job growth in Pennsylvania (Figure 5).

Employment growth in Education and Health Services is still positive but well below what it was earlier in the recovery (Figure 6).

Employment growth in Professional and Business Services continues to decelerate (Figure 7).

Employment growth in Trade, Transportation and Utilities has yet to match growth during the first year of the recovery (Figure 8).


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