U.S. Sees Big Jobs Jump in April, Even as Unemployment Rate Rises

This morning’s news that 290,000 new jobs were created in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, surprised economists who had been expecting a much smaller jobs growth.

Predictions had ranged from a low of about 180,000 to a high pushing 200,000. Most surveys expected the unemployment rate to remain at 9.7 percent, where it has been since January. Its increase, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report suggests, is probably due to the reentry of discouraged workers and others who had given up their job search. The government counts as unemployed only those individuals who are out of work and actively sought a job in the previous four weeks.

Some 800,000 workers joined the labor force in April. While pushing up the unemployment rate, it’s also a sign that workers may be feeling more optimistic about their job prospects. That optimism was reflected in last week’s increase in the Consumer Confidence Index and is rooted in the growing numbers of jobs being advertised, as evidenced by both the Monster Employment Index and The Conference Board’s monthly survey of online job postings.

Besides the April numbers, the BLS also adjusted upwards the numbers for March and February. The revisions changed February from a jobs loss to a 39,000 jobs gain. Now, under the revised numbers, the U.S. has added 573,000 jobs.

The other surprise in today’s BLS report is that most of the new jobs came from the private sector and not as a result of the hiring of thousands of temporary new census workers. Census hiring accounted for 66,000 of the new jobs, far less than the 100,000 some economists had predicted.

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The census hiring was rivaled by a 44,000 increase in manufacturing jobs, due, in part, to improving auto sales. Even bigger were the gains in the professional and business services sector, which added 80,000 jobs.  This category includes the accountants, managers, clerks, engineers, HR personnel, and others and is part of the service sector.

Most sectors of the economy showed growth. Only information (IT) and finance continued to show weakness, shedding 12,000 and 20,000 jobs respectively.

There were signs before the stock markets opened this morning that the strong domestic jobs report will temper investor jitters. Stock futures were trading somewhat higher before the opening.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


23 Comments on “U.S. Sees Big Jobs Jump in April, Even as Unemployment Rate Rises

  1. Even if we assume the BLS’ birth/death model isn’t flawed, the economy requires a minimum of 150,000 jobs each month just for people who are new to the job market. That’s 140,000 “created” jobs for the rest of the jobseekers. Subtract the 66,000 census jobs and we now have 74,000 non-census jobs. Since the BLS counts as a new job any job where the person only works one day per week – let’s assume that one-third are these types of jobs, that leaves about 51,000 non part-time jobs.

    And this excites you?

  2. @Steve – Charts that look like this one excite me.

    The 2010 April NFP was the fastest pace of job gains in four years.

    We are clearly not out of the woods yet, but just as clearly things are getting a lot better then they were just a few months ago.

  3. See, the strength of all these articles is that you occasionally can get excited over flawed numbers instead of flawed opinions. I love the change but as you both [Steve, David] agree we are far from being out of the woods. Lots of firms gearing up but not actually pulling many triggers…yet.

    AND unemployment continues to rise in the face of more than 150k in new jobs so, therefore, we’re wringing out the “numbers” that fell into the black hole (i.e. no longer seeking work because they are too depressed so we won’t count them any longer).

    Next month amid the optimism of another 250k growth, I wonder if we’ll attract enough fallen job seekers back to looking to raise unemployment above 10%. Love it.

  4. Hi John,

    I always enjoy your thoughtful analysis. However, we do continue to grab at thin straws for good news.

    I track the college grad unemployment rate on my blog. It remained flat from March to April at 4.9%. See a 12-month graph here at http://bit.ly/aOi6WD. I was hoping for a firmly establish downward trend but didn’t get it.

    None the less, if parents ever need an argument to convince their kids to finish college, 4.9% unemployment for college grads versus 9.9% average unemployment is pretty compelling.



  5. Yeow. Hanging around with you guys is like going to a party of life insurance actuaries. Their favorite game was “Guess how old you’ll be when you die, which, statistically, is a certainty.”

    I doubt there’s a living soul (at least none who read ERE) who doesn’t know we are a long way from even. But just take a look at the April 2009 numbers and you quick see that the job picture has changed by 872,000 to the good.

    That’s somehow not good news?

    Need help finding the dark cloud in the sliver lining? Read over the predictions about a dark, psychological future for America’s kids, traumatized as they are by the reality that life can sometimes be hard. (http://bit.ly/ahD6rI).

    Or you might walk on over to the article I did on the feds HIRE program (http://bit.ly/bBLcCl). Just dig into the comments there and you discover that the jobs incentive program is just another socialist plot doomed to the same fate as the “failed” Social Security program.

    Oh. My.

  6. Hi John,

    I didn’t want to look at the April 2009 numbers. I wasn’t going to do that graph this month. But I did. Just. For. You. I looked at 5-Year April Jobless Rates for College Grads here http://bit.ly/dA2JZm. Um, the rate was up 2009 to 2010.

    However, on a cheery, silvery note, the rate of increase has been essentially horizontal for the last six months which is, in fact, better than the nearly vertical rate of increase between 2008 and 2009.


    Donna Svei, CPA (with apologies to actuaries)

  7. Steve/Gerry great comments. However, I like John’s optimism. I’ll celebrate job growth even it means the U.S. is no longer bleeding jobs and the celebration is just the end of the bleeding. At least it is good news … we could have riots in the streets and people torching banks like some European countries.

  8. John…

    “I doubt there’s a living soul (at least none who read ERE) who doesn’t know we are a long way from even.” Some may be in denial…

    Again, the 872K number looks impressive in relative terms but all I’m doing is helping folks understand that based upon the assumptions of the birth/death model used by BLS, you simply don’t know what you’re getting with it’s proclamations of “large numbers.”

    The problem is one of breathing a sigh of relief which is what many do when given the results. If people are believing that the worst is absolutely behind us all they have to do is to look at how sensitive the economy is to volcanic ash and oil spills.

    When we can figuratively laugh at the impact of events like these then we’re in a better place. Until then, I’ll feel more comfortable when governments implement programs to drive R&D growth through things other than tax credits.

    I’d rather be careful than to walk on thin ice during a spring thaw…

  9. Hey, I like John’s optimism too. And David’s as well. And your’s too. And you know me Rob, I a sunshiney person if there ever was one.

    But the model’s assumptions leave us with no way of knowing how many of these jobs are for one day per week, two day per week, etc. I wish I knew…

  10. John –
    Great article, and things appear to be better, particularly with previous months revised upward, Q1 now showing +283k and April the biggest # in over 4 years.

    U6 rose too, 17.1%, over 30 Mil., a # that needs some attention and concern too.


  11. Sorry guys! I simply don’t believe the numbers released by the government. I look around me and don’t see anyone I know going back to work yet, what’s worse – I’ve seen 3 HR/Recruiters loose their longtime jobs in the last 2 days! How does that old saying go? “I’ll believe it when I see it!”….when it effects people around me.

  12. Macroeconomic Forecasts
    last updated: 04/26/2010

    link to Great Recession web page (links to selective news about the current state of the economy)

    Surv. of Prof. Forecasters (Feb) Wells Fargo (Apr) WSJ (Apr) Fed (Jan) CBO (Jan) OMB (Feb)
    economic growth, 2010 3% 3% 3.1% 2.8 to 3.5% 2.1% 3%
    economic growth, 2011 2.9% 2.5% 3.4 to 4.5% 2.4% 4.3%
    unemployment (end of 2010) 9.7% 9.9% 9.3% 9.5 to 9.7% 10% 9.8%
    unemployment (end of 2011) 9.2% (annual average) 9.2% 8.2 to 8.5% 9.1% 8.9%
    core inflation, 2010 1.3% 1.2% 1.8% (overall) 1.1 to 1.7% 1% 1.3% (overall)
    core inflation, 2011 1.5% 1.6% 1 to 1.9% 0.9% 1.7%

    Recent Forecasts

    Quarterly economic survey (USA Today – Apr 2010): economic growth = 3 in first half of 2010, 3% in second half; unemployment peaks at 9.4% by end of 2010; 8.5% at end of 2011; inflation averages 1.7% in 2010
    IMF (April 2010): includes global forecasts; US economic growth = 3.1% in 2010, 2.6% in 2011; unemployment averages 9.4% in 2010, 8.3% in 2011; inflation = 2.1% in 2010, 1.7% in 2011
    Economic forecasting survey, April 2010 (WSJ): economic growth = 3.1% in 2010; unemployment at 9.3% at end of 2010; inflation = 1.8% in 2010
    Associated Press Survey (Apr 2010): economic growth = 3% in 2010; unemployment declines to 9.3% by end of 2010, 8.4% at end of 2011; Fed starts to raise rates in 4th quarter 2010
    Wells Fargo Securities Economic Forecast (latest forecast: Apr 2010): economic growth 3.5% in first quarter of 2010, 3% in 2010 and 2.5% in 2011; core PCE inflation = 1.2% in 2010 and 1.6% in 2011; unemployment rate rising to 10% in the third quarter of 2010; declining to 9.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011 (slow job creation beginning March 2010 (census related); sustained job growth of 100,000+ per month begins in fourth quarter)
    Bloomberg (Apr 2010): economic growth = 3% in 2010 and 2011; unemployment declines to 9.4% by end of 2010 and averages 8.9% in 2011; Fed begins to raise rates in fourth quarter 2010 with the federal funds rate ending 2010 at 0.75%
    Morgan Stanley (April 2010): economic growth = 3.25% in 2010 and 2.5% in 2011; unemployment rises back to 9.9% in second quarter before declining again
    Univ. of Michigan Economic Forecast (executive summary – Mar 2010): economic growth = 2.5% in 2010, 2.8% in 2011; core inflation (CPI) = 1.1% in 2010 and 1.4% in 2011; unemployment rate averages 9.5% in 2010 and 9.1% in 2011
    Reuters (Mar 10): economic growth = 2.6% in first quarter, 2.9% for 2010; core inflation = 1.3% in 2010, 1.6% in 2011; Fed starts to raise rates in3rd qtr, ending 2010 at 0.75%, 1.5% by mid-2011
    Blue Chip economic forecast – March (CNBC): economic growth = 3.1% in 2010, 3% in 2011
    NABE consensus forecast: February 2010 (CNBC): unemployment = 9.6% by end of 2010; economic growth = 3.1% in 2010, 3.2% in 2011; core PCE inflation rises 1.5% in 2010, 1.7% in 2011; fed funds rate rises to 0.75% in fourth quarter 2010
    Fed Forecast as of Jan 2010: economic growth = 2.8% to 3.5% in 2010 and 3.4 to 4.5% in 2011 (note: these are from 4th quarter to 4th quarter while other forecasts compare yearly averages); unemployment rate = 9.5 to 9.7% in 2010 and 8.2 to 8.5% in 2011 (estimates are for 4th quarter of the respective year); natural rate of unemployment = 5 to 5.2% (range = 4.8 to 6.3%); inflation as measured by core PCE index of 1.1% to 1.7% in 2010 and 1 to 1.9% in 2011
    Survey of Professional Forecasters (latest survey February 2010): economic growth = 3% in 2010, 2.9% in 2011; core inflation (PCE) = 1.3% in 2010 and 1.5% in 2011 (overall PCE inflation = 1.1% in 2009, 1.7% in 2010, 2.1% in 2011); unemployment rate =9.7% in fourth quarter 2010; average unemployment rate = 9.2% in 2011, 8.3% in 2012
    OMB (Feb 1, 2010 – see p7): economic growth (end of year comparisons) = 3% in 2010, 4.3% in 2010; unemployment = 9.8% in 2010, 8.9% in 2011; inflation = 1.3% in 2010, 1.7% in 2011; natural rate of unemployment = 5.2%, growth in potential GDP = 2.5%
    CBO (Jan 2010): note – assumes all Bush tax cuts expire and other policy changes that are unlikely (need to make forecast assuming current policy; results in weaker forecast); economic growth (end of year comparisons) = 2.1% in 2010, 2.4% in 2011; unemployment = 10% in fourth quarter 2010, 9.1% in 2011Q4, core PCE inflation = 1% in 2010, 0.9% in 2011; growth in potential GDP = 2.1% during next 5 years before rising to 2.4% from 2015-2020
    American Banker’s Association (Jan 2010): economic growth = 3.1% in 2010, core inflation = 1.2%, unemployment close to 10%
    Livingston Survey (latest survey – Dec 2009): economic growth = 2.6% for the first half of 2010, 3% for the second half of 2010; unemployment rate = 10.3% in June 2010 and 9.9% in Dec 2010; inflation (CPI) = 2.2% for 2010 and 1.8% for 2011

    Commentaries on Economic Conditions
    Beige Book (Fed)
    Haver Analytics: up-to-date commentary on recently released economic data
    Current Economic Data

    Economy at a Glance (BLS): Orlando Metropolitan Area; Florida
    Economic Calendar (Briefing.com)

  13. While I view this data as optimistic and positive, there are some issues to be aware of in the report. One cannot just dismiss the 66,000 temporary census workers as not being important to the numbers. It is a false economic benefit, many of those people will not be employed upon the completion of the Census. Further 188,000 new jobs a from a statistical adjustment that assumes job creation by new business start ups. This isn’t true job growth in the economy. As many of us know, while start ups are important to the economy their ability to hire employees immediately isn’t that easily stated. While we are better off than the EU and countries like Spain and Greece, we must avoid rose colored glasses and be realistic with our workforce plans moving forward to reflect economic conditions.

  14. Too many jobs are govt jobs. Not sure about this recovery as well as the recent down turn in the stock market. I do not hink the recovery is real.. btw.. want to share a site in which you can state your opinion and win free prizes. opinion.ezwingame.com

  15. The 150k per month increase in available workers is the higher # of the 100-150k cited. It is greatly affected by changes in flows of 1. Fewer going to college, 2. Those leaving the US (perhaps the outflow has switched to inflow, but with AZ?), and 3. Those retiring – people are working longer as they have to after the financial wipeout many suffered. Those who were able to take early retirement or live on one income cashing in houses, are less likely to be able to do it in this market.

    Here is the bottom line, for now (April) the Recession has taken – a recess – as 231k PRIVATE sector jobs were added. Things don’t look that swift, yet, but this week, we just surpassed last year in Placements all year, and at a 10% higher fee. Tough to put a negative spin on this fact.

    Keith – Mr. Analysis Paralysis – gosh, you know I will for one will read all of it.

  16. @Jonathan: Keith – Mr. Analysis Paralysis – gosh, you know I will for one will read all of it.

    I’m glad you’re doing well, Jonathan. I’m fortunate and working, too.
    If presenting useful (if hard to read- next time I’ll include the URL) information for people to review and interpret as they wish is a crime, I plead guilty.
    Here’s a URL for historical unemployment data:

    I’ll feel a little better when the UR gets/stays down below where it was at the depths of the 1990-1991recession (7.8%), and a LOT better when it gets/stays above the depths of 2002-2003 Recession (6.3%- can that be right?), which we were last at in 9/2008.



    Pessimism of the spirit; optimism of the will.
    Antonio Gramsci
    1891-1937, Italian Political Theorist

  17. Oh my gosh if I read one more of these posts my head will explode. I can’t even begin to comment on all the statistics being thrown about and can only throw out some anecdotal observations (albeit based on the jobs which are posted on BountyJobs which are 350-500 each month so somewhat of an indicator).

    There is no question in my mind and in the minds of most employers and recruiters that I speak to every day that the job market is improving. As John says, we have a long way to go before we get back to even, and as Steve says, on’t trust government figures. But sorry I can’t agree with comments like those from Brenda. In Nov/Dec every headhunter I knew (and we speak to hundreds every day) called employers and heard “we’ve got NOTHING”. Today, the majority say there are jobs. Hires in March/April thru just our site where higher than at any time since early 2009. I’m not popping corks yet, but you can;t say things aren’t better.

  18. “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”

    Harry S Truman, in Observer, April 13, 1958
    33rd president of US (1884 – 1972)

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