The unemployment rate in April dipped to its lowest level in seven years, while job growth regained momentum after snapping a 12-month streak of over 200,000 jobs per month.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 213,000 nonfarm job gains in April. Local, state and federal governments gained 10,000 nonfarm jobs.
The total net job gains in April were 223,000, a much higher number than the 85,000 the BLS reported for March after revisions. (Prior to March, the economy had netted over 200,000 jobs per month for 12 consecutive months, the longest such streak in nearly 20 years.) The unemployment rate dropped from 5.5 to 5.4 percent, the lowest rate since May of 2008 (when it was 5.4 percent and rising).
The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 62 consecutive months since the Great Recession, the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in U.S. history. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.6 percentage points from the recessionary high of 10.0 percent in October 2009.
The BLS also revised job gains for February, showing that the economy netted 2,000 more jobs than the BLS had previously estimated. After BLS revisions, net job gains have averaged 193,750 per month since the beginning of this year.
Job growth continued in the professional and business services industry, at 62,000. Job gains averaged 35,000 per month in the three months prior to April, after averaging 59,000 per month in 2014.
At 45,000, health care yet again netted job gains. The industry has added 390,000 jobs over the past year. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.
Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor-market health, gained only 1,000 jobs in April. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, gained 45,000 jobs thanks to warmer spring weather. Construction has added 280,000 jobs in the past 12 months.
Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (17.1 percent) followed by blacks (9.6), Hispanics (6.9), adult men (5.0), adult women (4.9), whites (4.7) and Asians (4.4, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced a significant change in their April unemployment rate except for Asians, who saw it rise by 1.2 percent.
Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 2.7 percent unemployment rate in April, up from 2.5 in March. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 8.6 percent rate, the same as in March.
For the BLS to count workers as officially unemployed, they must be actively seeking jobs in the four weeks preceding the count. The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in April was 8.5 million, down from 8.6 million in March. The number of unemployed persons has dropped by 1.1 million over the past year.
The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in April was 6.6 million, down from 6.7 million in March.
The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector remained at 34.5 hours from March through April. Their average hourly earnings rose 3 cents to $24.87. Average hourly earnings rose by 2 cents to $20.90 for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs.
The number of marginally-attached workers in April was 2.1 million, the same as in March. Among the marginally-attached, 756,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was up by 18,000 from the 738,000 that the BLS initially reported for March. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 2.5 million in April, down slightly from 2.6 million in March. These workers accounted for 29.0 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 888,000 over the past 12 months. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the April 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the May 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers on June 5. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
– – –
Certain figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.