Jobs report shows professional jobs growing steadily

Despite reports of layoffs at many major companies, employment in business and professional services continued to rise last month, and it's been rising for the past year.
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Jobs report shows professional jobs growing steadily

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the April 2017 jobs report last week, showing some surprising good news: Despite reports of layoffs at many major companies, employment in business and professional services continued to rise last month, and it’s been rising for the past year.

It’s important to note that there is a large margin of error, and that one of the surveys goes through revisions after initial data for the month is released.

The big question: What’s the unemployment rate?

According to the April 2017 jobs report, “both the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, changed little in April. Over the year, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has fallen by 854,000.”

Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com‘s senior economic analyst, put this in perspective for Ladders.

Referring to that 4.4% level, he said, “theoretically, the lower the unemployment rate goes, the more challenging it becomes to keep growth going.” Hamrick added, “The recovery began eight years ago —we’re now in the third-longest recovery period since the end of World War II. We’re definitely at the low end of the unemployment rate spectrum.”

The New York Times also reported that the 4.4% rate was “down from 4.5 percent in March and the lowest rate in more than 10 years,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The professional and business services “supersector” gets a boost

If this sounds like a pretty broad category to you, you’re right.  That’s because it’s made up of three whole sectors, namely: “Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services,” “Management of Companies and Enterprises,” and “Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services.”

The number of people getting jobs in professional and business services went up by 39,000 jobs last month, and 612,000 jobs in the last year.

Hamrick told Ladders about what’s going on in this area.

“We need business and professional services to do a lot of the heavy lifting of job creation because many people have those skill sets,” he said, adding, “The US economy is largely reliant on services and that’s why we’ve seen people moving away from the traditional Rust Belt,” referring to various manufacturing jobs.

More gains across the board

Some industries hired more job seekers than others. “Nonfarm payroll” jobs, or non-agricultural jobs, went up by a whopping 211,000 last month.

In April, “leisure and hospitality” went up by 55,000 jobs, “health care and social assistance” by 37,000, “financial activities” by 19,000 jobs, and “mining” by 9,000 jobs.

“There was a good cross-section of sectors hiring in the April jobs report, business and professional services as well as health care among them. The goods-producing sector continues to be a work in progress. Construction, manufacturing and mining/logging all were in the plus column, which is good to see,” Hamrick said in an emailed statement.

What didn’t change much last month

Other than the unemployment rate (4.4%)  and “number of unemployed persons” (7.1 million), here are just some of the areas where no drastic changes happened in April 2017.

According to the report, “employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little change over the month.”

Unlike the “unemployment rate for adult men,” which dipped to 4% in April, the “jobless rates” for certain groups didn’t change much: “adult women” had a 4.1% rate, “Blacks” had a 7.9% rate, “Hispanics” had a 5.2% rate, “Whites” had a 3.8% rate, “Asians” had a 3.2% rate, and teens had a 14.7% rate.

As for the number of people who were out of work for at least 27 weeks (called the “long-term unemployed”) the report said that the amount was “essentially unchanged at 1.6 million in April” and accounted for 22.6% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 433,000.

Jane Burnett

Jane Burnett

is a reporter for Ladders. She is based in New York City and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.

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