Employment Summary for April 2014
Economists were cautiously optimistic this morning, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its employment data from April 2014. The findings showed that the U.S. added more than 288,000 jobs during the month, well beyond experts' prediction of 210,000. Additionally, the unemployment rate dipped down to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent - the lowest it has been since September 2008. However, economists argue the positive job report could be somewhat misleading as the drop in unemployment is also due to a decrease in labor force participation.
During the first three months of 2014, businesses had been reporting slow, yet steady, growth. While most of the last few reports indicated slower job growth than predicted, April's numbers far exceeded expectations, showing that the nation continues to see positive job growth.
According to the BLS report, total nonfarm employment rose by 288,000 workers. USA Today reported this represents the highest number of job gains within the past two years. Industries that posted the greatest amount of new workers included professional and business services, food services, construction and retail. Professional and business services added the most jobs, with more than 75,000 new positions in April. The report noted that this industry had seen significant growth over the past 12 months, adding, on average, 55,000 jobs each month.
Retail trade grew by 35,000 new workers, with specific sectors seeing more growth than others. Food and beverage stores had the highest numbers, adding 9,000 workers. General merchandise, auto dealers and non-store retailers also demonstrated positive growth, with thousands of individuals joining the ranks.
Food services, construction, health care and mining posted substantial growth, adding tens of thousands of new positions during April. Other industries did not report significant changes in their employment, including manufacturing, information, financial, transportation and government.
Economists were especially shocked by the low unemployment rate, according to USA Today. They believed that numbers would show a much smaller decrease - dropping by 0.1 point down to 6.6 percent. Reuters cautioned that the actual figure was indicative not only of the increased employment, but also of the lower number of unemployed people actively seeking work.
Russell Price, the senior economist at Ameriprise Financial, explained to the source that the numbers indicated a strengthening economy, one that could not be hampered by environmental factors."The economy really has strong underlying fundamentals supporting its growth," Price said to Reuters. "Temporary headwinds such as the bad weather can certainly be managed." Additionally, economists believe that employment will continue to rise in the next few months due to a combination of higher demand, greater expendable income, spending cuts from the government and lowered debt.