Job declines lowest since October

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classified2While the BLS reported this morning that nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in April (-539,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 8.5 to 8.9 percent, a closer look shows some positive indicators. Yes, 5.7 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007.  And yes, nearly all major private-sector industries lost jobs again in April.

BUT, while declines were widespread, the numbers of jobs lost receded compared to previous months. The loss of 539,000 jobs in April means that 142,000 fewer jobs were lost compared to the 681,000 lost in February (revised down 30,000), and 160,000 fewer compared to the 699,000 lost in March (revised down 36,000). This is the least amount of jobs lost since October, which saw a decline of 380,000 jobs.

And with regards to the unemployment rate, keep in mind that it is a lagging indicator of the economy. That’s why we look so closely at the number of jobs lost versus the unemployment rate. Consumer confidence, business investment and consumer spending usually recover ahead of the job market.

Next month will tell.  If the number of jobs lost in May is less than what was lost in April, that could signal a road to recovery.

There was also some growth. Health care remained strong, adding 17,000 jobs; Government grew by 72,000 jobs, attributed mainly to the hiring of temporary workers for the 2010 census. Call me Pollyanna, but there were job gains – albeit small – in some other sectors:

So is the economy on the mend? We don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s worth reading this MSNBC article.

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