Reflections on the April 2021 BLS Report

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Just over a year ago, America experienced the highest levels of unemployment in recent times, with office closures, layoffs, and a widespread fear of Covid-19 shaking the nation. While April of 2021 itself wasn't a showstopper month – with nonfarm payroll increasing by only 266,000 and the unemployment rate decreasing slightly from 6.2% to 6.1% – the current situation is a largely positive one that shows how far the nation has come in terms of economic recovery.

Let's take a look at job gains and losses over the last month:

Screen Shot 2021-05-07 at 10.29.08 AMGraphs from BLS Employment Situation Report

Industries that saw growth in April 2021

April saw 266,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy. Those job gains mostly came from the leisure and hospitality industry as more and more businesses (especially those that closed down earlier in the pandemic) start to re-open their doors.

  • Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 331,000. Food services and drinking places made up the brunt of those gains (187,000), with amusement, gambling, and recreation also growing significantly (73,000).
  • Other service industries such as repair and maintenance (14,000) and personal/laundry services (14,000) saw employment increases.
  • Local government education employment increased by 31,000.
  • Employment in social assistance rose by 23,000. Half of that came from childcare and daycare services (12,000).
  • Financial activities saw gains of 19,000, with most occurring in real estate and rental and leasing (17,000).

Related: Learn how businesses are hiring at a high volume during Covid-19

Industries that saw losses in April 2021

Some of the gains seen in April were offset by losses in industries such as temporary help services and manufacturing.

  • Temporary help services employment declined by 111,000, especially in the area of business support services (15,000).
  • Employment for couriers and messengers decreased by 77,000 (although it is still up by 126,000 since February of 2020).
  • Manufacturing has seen major demand in the last few months, but edged down slightly in April, with losses of 18,000. Job losses were especially seen in manufacturing of motor vehicles and parts (27,000) and wood products (7,000).
  • Retail trade saw gains in March, but lost 15,000 jobs in April. 

Employment remained largely unchanged for the following industries: healthcare, construction, mining, wholesale trade, and information. 

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Other April employment statistics

This month's household survey data showed that:

  • 18.3 percent of employed people worked from home in some fashion due to the pandemic, down slightly from March.
  • 9.4 million people reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. This number is 3.7 million lower than in March, one of the largest dips seen in recent months.
  • The number of people not in the labor force in April who were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic fell to 2.8 million people.
  • Average hourly earnings rose by 21 cents this month, implying that the rising demand for labor is pushing wages up.

Although employment increases were seen across many industries, economists expected a better showing for April. As more employers re-enter the market and attempt to hire lots of workers, many have struggled to get the hires they need, even as more people are returning to the workforce. It's clear that changes will need to be made to better attract and retain workers – either by raising wages, offering safer conditions, or incorporating other benefits that people in the workforce currently need.

Talroo will continue to research and report on how the economy is doing on this long road to recovery. Read more of our research, resources, and reflections over the past year. 

Topics: Recruiting Industry

Updated May 7, 2021