U.S. job growth came in stronger than expected in April, boosted by a flurry of hiring across different sectors of the economy.
Employers added 253,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, easily beating the 180,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 3.4%, a historically low level, as more workers left the labor force.
“Despite the twin shocks of elevated inflation and higher interest rates, the American labor market is simply unstoppable,” said Joe Brusuelas, RSM chief economist. “Think of how sports commentators used to describe Michael Jordan: One can’t stop him, one can only hope to contain him. So it is right now with the American labor market.”
Job gains were broad-based last month, with professional and business services leading the way. The sector added 43,000 new jobs last month, well above the average monthly gain of 25,000 seen in the past six months.
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Computer systems design and related services accounted for a large percentage of those gains, adding 12,700 workers in April. There were also notable gains in management, scientific and technical consulting services (8,400), accounting, tax preparation and other payroll services (7,700) and architectural and engineering services (5,000).
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Hiring in the health care sector was the second-biggest component behind the solid jobs report. The sector hired more than 39,000 employees in April, with the biggest gains stemming from the offices of physicians (12,200), nursing and residential care facilities (8,800), hospitals (6,600) and the office of dentists (4,600).
“Hiring in high-wage categories remained strong in April,” Brusuelas said.
Another big source of job creation in April was the leisure and hospitality sector, the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw payrolls increase by 31,000. Bars and restaurants accounted for the bulk of those gains, adding 24,800 workers in April.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry still remains about 402,000 workers — or roughly 2.4% — below its pre-pandemic levels.
Hiring in other industries, including social assistance (24,600), financial activities (23,000), construction (15,000), manufacturing (11,000) and transportation and warehousing (10,600) also rose last month.
Although the report pointed to solid hiring in April, it also showed much weaker job growth over the previous two months. Gains for February and March were revised down by a total of 149,000 jobs to a respective 248,000 and 165,000, the government said.
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