U.S. sheds fewer jobs than expected in April

U.S. employers released 20,000 jobs in April, which is less than the 75,000 job losses predicted by economists, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the unemployment rate in the U.S declined slightly from 5.1 percent in March to 5 percent in April.

However, April's job losses still indicate a struggling economy, and the economy grew at an insignificant 0.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year. There are 7.6 million unemployed U.S. workers compared with 6.8 million a year ago. Teens are being affected most, with a jobless rate of 15.4 percent. The jobless rate for African-Americans is 8.6 percent and 6.9 percent for Hispanics.

"The economy has clearly slipped into a mild job recession because the housing meltdown and credit market turmoil has spread to the broader economy," says Steven Wood of Insight Economics LLC, Danville, Calif. "Persistent job losses will put the overall economy into recession."

The average workweek and factory overtime were down. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1 percent to $17.88 in April, but average weekly earnings fell 0.2 percent to $602.56. During the past year, average hourly earnings increased 3.4 percent and weekly earnings increased 3.1 percent; however, consumer inflation has increased 4 percent during the past year.

Many job losses were in the construction, manufacturing and retail sectors. Construction employment fell by 61,000 jobs in April; since its peak in September 2006, the construction sector has lost 457,000 jobs.

Manufacturing showed a loss of 46,000 jobs in April and has lost 326,000 jobs during the past year. The retail sector lost 27,000 jobs in April.

Some strength has been seen in sectors such as health care, computer design, technical and food services. In addition, the household survey showed a large increase in the work force during April.

Date : 5/9/2008