Private-sector nonfarm employment grew by 119,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, according to the national employment report released today by Roseland-based Automatic Data Processing, which revised its March numbers down to 201,000, from the initial report of 209,000.
The number of jobs added, which came in below expectations, was “surprisingly weak,” said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, which co-authors the monthly report with ADP.
Prakken said the winter’s unusually warm weather that boosted employment, Tuesday’s positive report on manufacturing from the Institute of Supply Management, falling gas prices and an uptick in vehicle sales are promising for the overall economy despite April’s tepid jobs data.
“It would probably be foolhardy to look at today’s number, take it out of context and argue from today’s number that there’s some kind of fundamental downshift in economic growth and employment,” Prakken said. “I think we would have to see a few more months like this before we could conclude that.”
Cecilia E. Rouse, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, said it’s important not to read too much into any one report’s monthly estimates from a single source, but rather, to look at trends.
“Given the depth of this recession, we’ve always expected that the recovery would be somewhat uneven, and that there would be positive signs and a little deceleration, so it doesn’t surprise me to see some fluctuations,” Rouse said.
According to ADP’s report, the service-providing sector — a large driver of the overall U.S. economy — added 123,000 jobs in April. The goods-producing sector declined by 4,000 jobs; within that sector, manufacturing dropped by 5,000 jobs — its first decline since September. Construction also fell, for the first time in seven months, by 5,000 jobs.
The financial services sector marked its ninth consecutive monthly gain by adding 13,000 jobs, according to the report.
Much of the job growth in April was in small payrolls. Companies with up to 49 employees added 58,000 jobs. Another 57,000 jobs were added to midsize payrolls, 50 to 499 employees, and large payrolls with 500 or more employees grew by 4,000 jobs, according to the report.
The report’s numbers, which are compiled by ADP using payroll records, include only private-sector jobs. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the results of its survey on nonfarm payroll employment, which includes government workers, Friday.