U.S. Hiring Slows Sharply With Just 115,000 Jobs Added in April

Job fairBy CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer


U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in April for the second straight month, evidence of an economy still growing only sluggishly. The unemployment rate dipped, but only because more people gave up looking for work.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy added just 115,000 jobs in April. That's below March's upwardly revised 154,000 jobs and far fewer than the pace earlier this year.

The unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% last month from 8.2% in March. It has fallen a full percentage point since August to a three-year low. But last month's decline was not due to job growth. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking for work.

In April, the percentage of adults working or looking for work fell to the lowest level in more than 30 years. Many have become discouraged about their prospects. More than 5 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer, an astonishingly high number almost three years into a recovery.

Stock futures dipped after the report was released.

Employers added an average of 252,000 jobs per month from December through February, a burst of hiring that raised hopes the economy would accelerate. But job gains have averaged only 135,000 in the two months since then. That's below last year's pace of 164,000 per month.



Weak job gains pose a threat to President Barack Obama's reelection. He is likely to face voters this fall with the highest unemployment rate of any president since World War II.

Some economists attribute the weak gains partly to mild winter, which led some companies to accelerate hiring in January and February. That may have weakened hiring in March and April.

"Over the next couple of months we would expect the monthly gains to settle back into a 150,000 to 200,000 range," Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

But others are concerned that this reflects a genuine slowdown.

"One month can be weather related, two months of weaker than expected job growth is dangerously close to a trend," Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG, an institutional brokerage firm.

The slowdown could heighten fears that high gas prices and sluggish income growth are weighing on the broader economy.

Economists noted that the job gains are consistent with the 2.2% annual growth in the first three months of the year. Faster growth will be needed to accelerate hiring.

The economy must create at least 125,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth. It generally takes twice that number on a consistent basis to rapidly lower the unemployment rate.

Average hourly wages rose a penny in April, to $23.38. They have increased 1.8% over the past year, trailing the rate of inflation.

Manufacturers, retailers, and hotels and restaurants all added workers. So did professional services such as engineering and information technology. Shipping and warehousing firms, construction companies, and governments cut jobs.

Hiring in February and March was revised up to show additional job gains of 53,000.

There have been other signs that hiring will improve.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week by the most in a year, the government said Thursday. That drop wasn't reflected in the April employment report, which was compiled from a survey taken earlier in the month. But it could bode well for hiring in May.

And earlier this week, the Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group, said factory activity grew at the fastest pace in 10 months and a gauge of manufacturing employment showed that hiring jumped.

Still, service companies expanded in April at the slowest pace in four months, according to a separate ISM survey. And the group said hiring at those companies, which employ roughly 90% of the work force, slowed.

The economy expanded at a 2.2% annual rate in the January-March quarter, down from 3% growth in the fourth quarter. Economists polled by the Associated Press forecast the economy will grow 2.5% this year. In a healthy economy, that would be considered average. But faster growth is needed to spur greater job creation.

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Gumby

If we grow jobs faster, hen oil prices will climb faster . Businesses dont want higher oil prices so they keep eye on oil prices as they make hiring decisions.. Now investors look at oil prices stay the same and say why invest in clean energy at all ? Investors dont care about job creation.. Investors still think that higher oil prices is needed to make clean energy stocks attractive to invest.. Back to businesses,, they dont want higher oil prices... the catch 22 goes on.. So if you want jobs to grow faster like 300,000 jobs every month, you have to invest in clean energy stocks to support job growth where more energy will be needed without reigniting oil prices higher. Who wants to invest in clean energy stocks? anybody?

May 08 2012 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gary

Everyday we read about the hiring explosion underway. How obama is going to lead the country into a recovery,shockingly,sooner than expected. Now this. WHATS THE DEAL.?????. CUT THE CRAP,TELL THE TRUTH.

May 08 2012 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Somey

mrspelosi

It looks like you're going to be speaker of the house again; aren't you glad?

May 06 2012 at 8:12 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
lchap17156

Four more years of OBAMUNUISM and we'll all be out of work.

May 06 2012 at 11:48 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
lchap17156

Please not four more years of OBAMUNISM!!!

May 06 2012 at 11:44 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
gmydogbud

Both parties took money from special intrest groups and let all our jobs go off shore. Taxes have been lowered for Big Business and it did nothing to save American Manufacturing Jobs, so why should anybody believe that increasing those taxes will hurt job creation? All those highly educated, ivy league types have protected themselves, their jobs, their friends & have thumbed their collective nose at the American Worker. We find out that some, not all but some government workers spend our money like water, on vacations. The President just signed away Hundredes of Billions for countries and people, who hate us and want us dead. When will the American People get their turn on the gravy train? The Crooks do very well for themselves - don't pay their taxes and are rewarded with government jobs. G.E., Buffet and others - do not pay taxes and get away with it. Congress takes Cost of Living increases for two years, while Senior Citizens are told that the Cost of Living Had Not Gone Up. Congress engages in Insider Trading, the very same thing that would send their fellow Americans to Jail and we are told that it is just fine!

May 05 2012 at 4:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
maa2626

don"t worry be happy

May 04 2012 at 8:50 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Joe Giorgi

It is time we finally woke up to the lies in Washington. Mr O and his morons in Washington will never fix the problem. They are the problem and will continue to lie and find excuses for the employment failure until they hope to get re-elected. Send Mr O back to Chicago or 4 more years of enormous debt and joblessness will destroy a productive middle class and leave us nothing but a controlling gov't welfare nation with riots in the streets and lives similar to that of Greece. We decide America's fate this year!!!!

May 04 2012 at 4:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
pistolpetect15

Over-population, Made In China and Greed! Do the math!

May 04 2012 at 4:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rcohn95038

When will AP stop the nonwnesical cheerleading for Barack H. Obama? There is not even sluggish growth, as is sugeested in this attempt to help Obama, it is more like a complete meltdown of the economy, and the country, all thanks to Mr. Obama, and his disastrous policies. People, who have any sense, will vote to fire Obama, as that is what he deserves.

May 04 2012 at 2:03 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply