Nationwide unemployment rate at 7.5 percent in April

May 3, 2013

Online Staff Report

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported May 3.

Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade and health care.

The unemployment rate, at 7.5 percent, changed little in April, but has declined by 0.4 percentage point since January. The number of unemployed people, at 11.7 million, was also little changed over the month; however, unemployment has decreased by 673,000 since January.

The Rockford metro area’s unemployment rate was 11.8 percent in March, while the statewide unemployment rate was 9.4 percent. Statewide numbers for April will be released May 16 and metro statistics for April will be released May 23.

Nationwide, among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (6.7 percent) declined in April, while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), teen-agers (24.1 percent), whites (6.7 percent), blacks (13.2 percent) and Hispanics (9.0 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.1 percent, little changed from a year earlier.

In April, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 258,000 to 4.4 million; their share of the unemployed declined by 2.2 percentage points to 37.4 percent. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 687,000, and their share has declined by 3.1 percentage points.

The civilian labor force participation rate was 63.3 percent in April, unchanged over the month but down from 63.6 percent in January. The employment-population ratio, 58.6 percent, was about unchanged over the month and has shown little movement, on net, over the past year.

In April, the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million, largely offsetting a decrease in March. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In April, 2.3 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 835,000 discouraged workers in April, down by 133,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force in April had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Over the prior 12 months, employment growth averaged 169,000 per month. Professional and business services added 73,000 jobs in April and has added 587,000 jobs over the past year. In April, employment rose in temporary help services (plus 31,000), professional and technical services (plus 23,000), and management of companies (plus 7,000).

Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 38,000 over the month. Job growth in the food services industry averaged 25,000 per month over the prior 12 months.

Retail trade employment increased by 29,000 in April. The industry added an average of 21,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. In April, job growth occurred in general merchandise stores (plus 15,000) and in health and personal care stores (plus 5,000).

Health care added 19,000 jobs in April. Within the industry, employment rose in ambulatory health care services (plus 14,000). Over the prior 12 months, job growth in health care averaged 24,000 per month. In April, employment also continued its upward trend in social assistance (plus 7,000).

Employment changed little over the month in construction, with small offsetting movements in the residential and nonresidential components. Construction gained an average of 27,000 jobs per month over the prior six months. Manufacturing employment was unchanged in April.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.2 hour in April to 34.4 hours. Within manufacturing, the workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours.

In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $23.87. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 45 cents, or 1.9 percent. In April, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged up by 2 cents to $20.06.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from plus 268,000 to plus 332,000, and the change for March was revised from plus 88,000 to plus 138,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported.

Posted May 3, 2013

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