April Job Growth Greatly Disappoints as Government’s Gain Screeches to Near-Halt

Craig Bannister | May 3, 2024

U.S. employers added just 175,000 jobs in April, falling far short of analysts’ expectations, and the unemployment rate inched higher, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rose to 3.9% in April, but analysts had expected it remain at March’s 3.8% level.

Likewise, April’s job growth was well beneath the 243,000 expected and the 200,000 mark threshold dividing high and low growth. Over the prior 12 months, job growth averaged 242,000 per month.

Government added a mere 8,000 jobs in April, plummeting from its gain of 71,000 in March. Over the previous 12 months, government added an average of 55,000 per month which, if matched, would have raised April’s increase to a relatively healthy 222,000. Employment growth in the Leisure/Hospitality sector also slowed to a crawl, at just 5,000, after increasing by 53,000 in March.

Major industry sectors where employment growth in April varied significantly from its monthly average during the prior 12 months include:

  • Health Care: +56,000, down from prior 12-month average of 63,000.
  • Government: +8,000, down from prior 12-month average of 55,000.
  • Construction: +9,000, down from prior 12-month average of 22,000.
  • Retail Trade: +20,000, up from prior 12-month average 7,000.
  • Social Assistance: +31,000, up from prior 12-month average of 21,000.


April’s labor force participation rate of 62.7% was unchanged from the previous month, while the employment-to-population rate was 60.2%, compared to 60.3% in March.

Employment growth in February and March, combined, has been revised downward by a total of 22,000 jobs from BLS’s previous reports.

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