Broad job gains across the economy helped the labor market show resilience in the face of a banking crisis and growing recessionary concerns.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 253,000 in April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. That’s more than the Dow Jones estimate of 180,000.
Friday’s data bolsters the argument that the labor market has remained idiosyncratically strong despite signs that the broader economy has slowed.
Almost 1 in 4 of the new jobs were in health care and social assistance, which added about 64,200 in the month. About 24,000 of those new jobs were in ambulatory services alone. Nursing and residential care facility payrolls rose by 9,000, while hospital payrolls increased by 7,000 from the prior month.
Despite being the highest-growing sector compared with last month, health care still added fewer jobs than it has on average over the past six months. But the social assistance sector saw a larger increase than it has on average in that time period, helped by gains in the individual and family services sub-industry.
Professional and business services saw the second-largest growth in April at 43,000, which is more jobs than it has added in an average month over the past half-year. Professional, scientific and technical service jobs accounted for the bulk of the sector’s gains with a 45,000 increase. But temporary service roles continued to slide with a 23,300 month-over-month loss, putting the sub-sector’s total workforce nearly 175,000 jobs off its peak in March 2022.
“No jobs report is perfect,” said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “The continued decline in temporary help services employment may start tripping some traditional recession alarm bells, but given the rapid pace of hiring in recent years, it may simply be another sign of moderation.”
April’s broad gains in some ways made up for drops seen in previous months for a handful of industries. Construction gained 15,000 jobs in April after losing 11,000 in March. Payrolls tied to financial activity jobs grew by 23,000 in April, more than erasing losses after shedding a modest 1,000 in the prior month.
And despite the broad gains across sectors, total job growth is relatively muted. Bunker noted the three-month moving average came down to 222,000 with April’s data, which is less than half of its size a year ago. He said growth is still high enough to keep the unemployment rate steady, but those signs of moderation can show the Federal Reserve that the famously hot labor market is, in fact, showing indications of cooling.
“Workers, employers, and policymakers should be encouraged about the current state of affairs,” Bunker said. “But it’s unclear how much longer it can endure.”
— CNBC’s Gabriel Cortés contributed to this report.