April was a strange month for jobs

This morning’s employment data from BLS came as a surprise: employment increased by only 266,000 in April compared to the expectations of over 1 million. The unemployment rate was basically unchanged at 6.1%. In addition, data for March was dramatically revised downward from the earlier reported 916,000 to 770,000.

However, the slowdown did not occur in the sectors many expected. Contrary to some expectations, there was a continued resumption of economic activity in two areas which have direct public contact that had been curtailed due to the pandemic. Employment in Accommodation & Food Services was up by 241,400 (2.0%) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation employment was up 89,600 (5.0%). It was all the other sectors that showed sluggish or negative growth.

As noted above, besides the growth in Accommodation & Food Services, employment in the tangible producing industries was mixed. Construction and Mining employment was essentially flat, Manufacturing, Tangible education & health services, and Trade, Transportation & Utilities were down slightly. Telecommunications, and Tangible business services were up slightly. Repair & Maintenance and Personal & Laundry Services were both up.

For the intangible producing industries (beyond Arts, Entertainment & Recreation), employment in Information (excluding telecommunications) and Professional & Business Services were down. Financial Activities, Education & Health Services, and Government were basically flat. Membership associations and organizations showed some growth.

For more on the categories, see my explanation of the methodology in an earlier posting.

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