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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
                          Statement of                                
                           Keith Hall
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                           before the
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS
                       Friday, May 2, 2008

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the April
employment and unemployment statistics we released this morning.

     Nonfarm payroll employment changed little in April
(-20,000), following job losses in the first quarter that
averaged 80,000 per month. In April, employment continued to
decline in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade, while
jobs were added in health care and in professional and technical
services.  The unemployment rate, at 5.0 percent, was little
     Within the goods-producing sector, employment in
construction declined by 61,000.  Since its peak in September
2006, construction employment has fallen by 457,000.  Over the
last 6 months, job losses averaged 50,000 per month, compared
with an average loss of 12,000 per month from September 2006 to
October 2007.

     Manufacturing employment continued to decline in April.  Job
losses totaled 46,000 and were concentrated in durable goods
manufacturing.  Manufacturing hours fell from 41.2 to 40.9 hours
over the month, with reductions widespread across both durable
and nondurable industries.  Factory overtime was down by
one-tenth of an hour.

     In the service-providing sector, retail trade employment
continued to trend down.  Since a peak in March 2007, the
industry has shed 137,000 jobs.  In April, job declines occurred
in building and garden supply stores and in department stores.
     Elsewhere in the service-providing sector, health care
employment expanded by 37,000, with continued growth in
hospitals, home health care, and doctors’ offices.  Professional
and technical services added 27,000 jobs in April, following 3
months in which employment was about unchanged.  Employment in
food services continued to trend up over the month, although the
pace of job growth has slowed in recent months.

     Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector were up by 1 cent, or 0.1 percent,
in April and by 3.4 percent over the past 12 months.  From March
2007 to March 2008, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage
Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) rose by 4.3 percent.

     Turning to data from the household survey, both the number
of unemployed persons (7.6 million) and the unemployment rate
(5.0 percent) were little changed in April.  Over the past 12
months, the jobless rate has risen by 0.5 percentage point and
the number of unemployed individuals has risen by 797,000.
Although the number of unemployed persons who had been searching
for work for 27 weeks or more increased by 160,000, their share
of total unemployment changed little.  Over the month, the number
of persons who were unemployed due to job loss was little
changed, at 4.0 million, but was up by 698,000 from a year
earlier.  These job losers accounted for 53 percent of all
unemployed persons in April, up from 49 percent 12 months
earlier.  (Other groups of unemployed persons include those
entering the labor market for the first time, those re-entering
after an absence, and those who voluntarily leave jobs.)

     The number of persons in the labor force was about unchanged
over the month, and the labor force participation rate held at
66.0 percent.  In April, 62.7 percent of the population was
employed, essentially unchanged from the prior month but down
from a recent peak of 63.4 percent at the end of 2006.  The
number of persons working part time who prefer full-time
employment rose by 306,000 in April to 5.2 million.  Over the
past 12 months, involuntary part-time employment has increased by

     To summarize April’s labor market developments, payroll
employment was little changed at 137.8 million, as was the
unemployment rate, at 5.0 percent.

     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your

Last Modified Date: May 02, 2008