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March 2005, Vol. 128, No.3
Payroll employment grows in 2004
Emily Lloyd and Charlotte Mueller
Nonfarm payroll employment, as measured by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, increased by 2.1 million jobs in 2004, the first gain during a calendar year since 2000.1 (See chart 1.) Payroll employment remained 97,000 below its previous peak reached in February 2001. Although the job openings rate, as measured by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey2 (JOLTS), did trend upward during 2004, it also remained below its prerecession level. Employers reported a small increase in hiring during the fourth quarter, and separations held steady throughout the year. (See chart 2.) Unlike the CES, which measures the net change in employment from month to month, the JOLTS measures the total number of hires and separations that occur during the month as well as the number of job openings that employers have at the end of the month.
The picture for employment growth by industry was somewhat mixed. (See table 1.) Many industries turned the corner and showed growth, while a few industries continued to cut jobs. With general economic conditions improving, employment recuperated in some of the more cyclical industries such as machinery, trade, transportation, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. The low interest rates continued to spur demand for new homes and remodeling throughout 2004, and attributed to increased employment in construction and several housing related industries within financial activities, manufacturing, and retail trade. Improved State and local government budgets helped boost employment in the public sector as well as private education and health services. Hurricanes, which hit the southeastern United States, had some mixed effects on construction and retail trade late in the year. Also, because of ongoing structural change in the economy, some industries such as telecommunications, textile mills, and apparel continued to cut jobs.
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1 The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program surveys more than 160,000 nonfarm businesses representing about 400,000 establishments monthly. For more information on the program’s concepts and methodology, see BLS Handbook of Methods, Bulletin 2414 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 1992). CES data are available also online at www.bls.gov/ces/. The CES data used in this article are seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise noted.
2 The data for the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) are collected and compiled monthly from a sample of business establishments by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. JOLTS data are available online at www.bls.gov/jlt/.
Related BLS programs
Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)
National Current Employment Statistics
U.S. labor market in 2003: signs of improvement by year’s end—Mar.
U.S. labor market in 2002: continued weakness—Feb. 2003.
U.S. labor market in 2001: economy enters a recession—Feb. 2002.
The job market in 2000: slowing down as the year ended.—Feb. 2001.
The job market remains strong in 1999.—Feb. 2000.
Job growth slows during crises overseas.—Feb. 1999.
Strong job growth continues, unemployment declines in 1997.—Feb. 1998.
Employment in 1996: jobs up, unemployment down.—Feb. 1997.
Slower economic growth affects the 1995 labor market.—Mar. 1996.
Strong employment gains continue in 1994.—Feb. 1995.
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