Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 428,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported May 6. The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 5.9 million. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality (+78,000), in manufacturing (+55,000), and in transportation and warehousing (+52,000). In April, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+41,000) along with financial activities (+35,000), health care (+34,000), retail trade (+29,000), wholesale trade (+22,000), and mining (+9,000). Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including construction, information, other services, and government. Note that nonfarm employment is down by 1.2 million, or 0.8 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (10.2 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.9 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers remained at 1.4 million in April, and the number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed at 853,000. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020.
In April, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.5 million. This measure is 362,000 higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 25.2 percent of all unemployed persons in April.
Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent, were little changed over the month. These measures are each 1.2 percentage points below their February 2020 values.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was little changed at 4.0 million in April and is down by 357,000 from its February 2020 level. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was little changed at 5.9 million in April. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.
Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force increased by 262,000 in April to 1.6 million. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 456,000 in April, little different from the prior month.
Impact of the COVID pandemic. In April, 7.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 10.0 percent in the prior month. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey specifically because of the pandemic.
In April, 1.7 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 2.5 million in the previous month. Among those who reported in April that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 19.0 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little different from the prior month.
Among those not in the labor force in April, 586,000 persons were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 874,000 in the prior month. (To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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