The much anticipated Labor Department’s estimate of employment growth for the month of April came in today at +165K, growing from a revised 135.309 million in March to 135.474 million nonfarm employment in April. The March estimate was also revised upward from +88K to +138K.
In short, there’s not a lot not to like in today’s employment report (at least for those with low expectations of the labor market), with the broad aggregates coming in above general expectations. Another positive signal from the report is that government employment is declining, representing an encouraging sign for those concerned about the long-term productive nature of the economy and the costs associated with financing government employment.
To put today’s report in perspective, the April employment figures put the total seasonally adjusted employment growth, based upon the employer survey, at 783K, about where things stood at this point of the year as in 2004. Perhaps not surprisingly, judging by the reaction, the market appears to think the year is 2004, with really good things ahead for the next couple of years.
In comparing the 2013 experience to prior years since 1990, the 2013 figures so far would give 2013 a rank of 13th out of a total of 24 years, which, not surprisingly, is consistent with the story of a moderately decent employment recovery.
In contrast to the more optimistic employer survey, the household survey puts the total YTD growth at 274K, putting 2013 at a rank of 16 out of 24. The weakness in the household survey is a sign of caution given its leading nature going into a recession (as compared to the employer survey, which generally takes on the leading indicator role coming out of a recession).
Employment by broad sectors:
The employment report also contained some very encouraging signs on employment by broad sectors, with the goods producing sector up to 18.644 million from its 2010 low of 17.667 million and the service sector up to 116.830 million from its 2009 low of 111.587 million. In addition, government employment declined from a high of 22.679 million in April 2009 (excluding the Census months) to a recent low of 21.844 million. Although it’s is still a discouraging sign that government employment is still higher than goods producing, the measly 835K decline is still something to cheer for.
In sum, today’s employment report was encouraging, with private employment coming in well above expectations and the government employment declining by a little bit. Both are a sign that the economy is continuing on its moderate recovery path. Where’s those doomsday government spending advocates when you need them?