The U.S. economy added more jobs in April, 244,000, even as the unemployment rate edged up to 9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today.
Economists point out that the unemployment rate can rise even as the economy adds jobs if previously discouraged workers re-enter the workforce. But the new report shows the size of the labor force and the participation rate (the portion of the total population in the labor force) both relatively unchanged.
In a mixed report, nonfarm payroll employment was stronger, but the unemployment rate was higher than surveyed economists had predicted, as reported by Dow Jones Newswires this morning. The economists projected payrolls would rise only by 185,000, but they also expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 8.8 percent.
Minnesota is scheduled to release its April unemployment figures May 19.
Based on a survey of employers, the private sector added 268,000 jobs in April, the largest rise since February 2006, while state and local government employment continued a two-year downward trend, the bureau reported.
Retail trades, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, health care, manufacturing and mining sectors all gained employment in the month, while construction was unchanged.
The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey of households, increased for the first time since November, when it hit 9.8 percent.
The BLS estimates that 13.7 million people were out of work and actively seeking employment last month. The number of people unemployed for less than 5 weeks increased by 242,000 in April, while those out of work for 27 weeks or longer fell by 283,000 to 5.8 million.
A broader measure of unemployed — including those seeking work, those “marginally attached” to the workforce and discouraged workers no longer looking for a job — increased 0.2 percentage points to 15.9 percent.
In a separate release, announced layoff plans by employers continue to decline, hitting their lowest monthly total of the year and the third lowest over the last 16 months.
Earlier this week, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that employers during the month announced plans to cut 36,490 jobs from their payrolls, 12 percent fewer than the 41,528 job cuts announced in March.
So far this year, employers have announced 167,239 job cuts, 24 percent fewer than the 219,509 layoffs announced by this time last year.