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May 2016

BLS update: April brought showers, but May could bring flowers

The monthly jobs report showed slower-than-average job growth, but Monster's Joanie Courtney says the look-back was not without its bright spots.

By Joanie Courtney, Senior Vice President of Global Market Insights, Monster


On Friday, May 6, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment situation report for April, which is considered the bellwether for the health of the labor market. The April report did not meet expectations, despite an increase in overall jobs for the month.


The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April compared to 208,000 (revised down from 215,000) the previous month and below predictions of 200,000. The sector with the strongest job growth at 65,000 jobs was professional and business services followed by health care with 44,000 jobs added and financial activities with 20,000 of jobs added. The weakest sector for job growth in the U.S. was mining which lost 7,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5% in April. Average hourly wages for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $25.53. Wages have risen 2.5% over the year so far.

The labor force participation rate, or the percentage of people who are working or seeking work, fell to 68.2% from 63% in March.

Here’s what Monster’s SVP of Global Market Insights Joanie Courtney had to say about the report:

My overall take on this report

“Unfortunately the April job report showed some weakness in overall job growth for the US. Up until April, the U.S. economy was averaging 209,000 jobs created per month, and economists had expected the job growth would be in line with this average. Expectations were greatly missed with only 160,000 jobs added in April, which was also in line with the below-average job additions (156,000) ADP reported in its monthly employment statement. Job creation continued to be strong in professional business services and health care but is lagging in retail, construction and manufacturing. There are growing concerns around the U.S. economy with slow GDP growth of 0.5% in Q1 of 2016 and a stronger job report would have brought a bit more optimism but unfortunately that was not the case.”

The highlights and lowlights

“The silver lining in the April BLS report is wages ticking up to 0.3% from last month and 2.5% above last year which is a step in the right direction. Wages have been a bit stubborn and stagnant for the past few years and are certainly impacting consumer confidence and GDP. We need the positive trend to continue to boost the U.S. economy. The biggest disappointment in this job report was labor participation ticking back down to 62.8% from 63%. In April, 360,000 people decided not to participate in the workforce which means U.S. workers are frustrated and giving up on finding employment.” 

The big surprises

“There are a few surprises in the April report including downward revisions to the February and March reports, resulting in a reduction of 19,000 jobs compared to what was originally reported. In addition, I would have expected more jobs created in the construction sector based on other economic indicators, but I am hopeful to see that number improve during the remainder of 2016. The retail sector lost 3,000 jobs in April, which speaks to the decline in consumer spending and the increase of e-commerce business. Overall, the report’s big number (160,000 additional jobs in April) was a disappointing surprise for many but it is not all doom and gloom.”

The takeaway for recruiters and job seekers

“The good news is there are jobs in professional and business services as well as the health care industry. If you are looking for a job in today’s market, you may need to consider a different industry with more opportunity for growth. Many skills and experiences are transferrable to other industries. It is important to focus on selling your skills, experience and talents and your willingness to ramp up on a new industry. Don’t get discouraged and stay positive. It can be tough out there but remember, employers want to hire happy, optimistic and hardworking individuals.”

What I’m looking for in the next report

“I do expect we will see a continued trend of increasing wages in the next job report along with job growth in information technology, health care, and construction. I hope to see positive revisions to the job numbers for April and most importantly, see more people participating in the workforce. Hopefully these April showers will bring May flowers.” 

The next BLS report will be published Friday, June 3, 2016.

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