Help wantedThe deep freeze in U.S. employment continues to slowly thaw as the private sector added 32,000 jobs in April, following a revised gain of 19,000 jobs in March -- up from the initial report's decline of 23,000 -- according to data compiled in the ADP National Employment Report.

In addition, February's job total was revised to a slight gain of 3,000, which means private employment has increased, albeit slightly, for three straight months. A Reuters analysts' survey expected the ADP report to say private employers added 30,000 jobs in April.

Further, ADP added that the slow pace of improvement in private employment is consistent with the pause in the decline in initial jobless claims that took place in the winter months.

Separately, private placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said planned layoff announcements by U.S. employers decreased 43% to 38,326 in April compared to March -- and April was also the lowest monthly total since 37,178 were cut in July 2006, CNN.com reported Wednesday. April's total is 71% below the 132,590 jobs cut in the year-ago period. Job cuts tabulated by Challenger peaked at 241,749 in January 2009.

Services and Manufacturing Led the Way

The ADP report shows the job totals in April by large, medium and small businesses were gains of 14,000, 17,000 and 1,000, respectively.

The services sector continued to rebound in April, adding 50,000 jobs, and manufacturing added 29,000 -- the latter's third straight monthly increase. However, the goods-producing sector lost 18,000 jobs, and construction shed 49,000 jobs. That brought total construction jobs lost since the sector's peak in January 2007 to 2.16 million.

All eyes are on job creation these days because it's key to consumption, which helps fuel U.S. GDP growth. However, given a decade of overconsumption and stagnant incomes in many job classifications, few economists expect consumption patterns to return to the home-equity/refinance-distorted, cash-flush years of the housing bubble. Nevertheless, many economists do expect both consumer spending and business investment to trend slightly higher in the quarters ahead.

April's ADP report was a mixed-bag: The 32,000-job total wasn't much higher than the Reuters estimate, but as a result of revised totals for the two previous months, a mild uptrend is in place. The key now for policymakers and business executives alike is to increase job creation to totals that will lower the unemployment rate, continually, in the months and quarters ahead.

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