The economy picked up 290,000 new nonfarm jobs in April, exceeding the expectations of economists for a gain of 180,000, the Labor Department reported Friday morning. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up to 9.9% from 9.7%, indicating more workers were looking for jobs.
Nearly a quarter of the new jobs (66,000), however, were temporary government jobs working on the census. Still, job gains occurred in manufacturing (+44,000), professional and business services (+80,000), health care (+20,000), and leisure and hospitality (+45,000). Within those categories, however, were gains of 26,000 for temporary help services and a seasonal boost in accommodation and food service of 29,000. Health care has added 244,000 jobs through the first four months of 2010.
Construction added 14,000 jobs, following an increase of 26,000 in March, but the gains were concentrated in nonresidential building and heavy construction, which added 9,000 jobs each. Seasonally adjusted, there were4.27 million people working in construction in April, up from 4.26 million in April. Not seasonally adjusted, there were 1.9 million unemployed construction workers in April, up from 1.7 million in April 2009. The unemployment rate for the industry crept up from 18.7% last April to 21.8% in April, 2010.
The total number of unemployed persons during the month was 15.3 million, 45.9% jobless for 27 weeks or more. The number of long-term unemployed continued to trend up over the month, reaching 6.7 million. Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force rose by 195,000 over the month. Workers employed part time for economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers) was unchanged at 9.2 million; 2.4 million were marginally attached to the labor force in April, compared with 2.1 million a year earlier.