Employment Gains, Long Duration Unemployment Remains

By Zach Bethune, Tom Cooley and Peter Rupert

According to the BLS payroll employment increased by 280,000 with nearly all of that coming from private sector jobs, which increased 256,000 . The report also included an upward revision to March of 34,000 and a slight downward revision to April, -2,000. The goods producing sector was weak, adding only 6,000, with evident weakness in the petroleum sector: mining and logging shedding 18,000 jobs.  Fortunately, now the March decline in new jobs looks like an outlier with the economy adding a healthy number of new private sector jobs each month.

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Other than the goods producing sector and a small decline in the services “information” category, the gains were robust across all sectors private and public. Although average hours were flat as were average hourly wages, but because inflation is so low, real earnings ticked up somewhat.

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From the household survey the BLS reports an increase in the labor force of 397,000 and a slight uptick in the labor force participation rate as well as the employment to population ratio. These are encouraging signs the employment opportunities may be seen as improving.

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There was also a decline in the number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks, there are now 311,000 fewer. However, there is still a significant number of those unemployed over 27 weeks, that number fell by only 23,000, while those unemployed between 5 and 26 weeks increased by 379,000. The longer term unemployed are much less likely to find work and it has proved to be a persistent problem as those workers are likely losing skills while not at work. Moreover, those unemployed more than 27 weeks represent about 26% of those unemployed.

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However, there are other encouraging signs in the labor market. Quits continue to rise.

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And, there has also been a significant spike in those workers working part time for economic reasons transitioning to full time employment.

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