ADP reported that manufacturing employment rose by 11,000 in April. While that was slower than the 31,000 hires made in the sector in March, it was the fifth consecutive monthly increase, with manufacturers adding 111,000 workers on net in that time frame. This was yet another sign that we have turned a corner in the labor market, with employers accelerating their hiring in light of stronger activity and sentiment. In contrast, hiring in 2016 was flat for the year as a whole. We are hopeful the trend of stronger job growth is one that continues in the coming months.
Meanwhile, total private employment increased by 177,000 in April, which was close to the consensus estimate of around 180,000. Nonetheless, it was the slowest pace of hiring since October, down from 255,000 in March. Year-to-date, nonfarm payrolls have risen by 237,331 per month on average, which is significantly higher than the 180,892 workers added each month in 2016 as a whole.
Beyond manufacturing, the largest employment growth in April included professional and business services (up 72,000), education and health services (up 41,000) and leisure and hospitality (up 35,000), among others. Construction employment declined by 2,000 for the month. Small and medium-sized businesses (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees) accounted for 78.5 percent of all net new workers in April.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its latest estimates of job growth for April, hoping to improve upon the 98,000 workers added in March. Weather was likely a factor in dampening that figure. I would expect at least 170,000 nonfarm payroll workers added in April, with around 10,000 more workers in manufacturing. In essence, I would expect numbers close to the ADP estimates described above.
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