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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Transmission of material in this statement is embargoed until 
8:30 a.m. (ET) May 7, 2021.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                        Friday, May 7, 2021

     Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in April, 
and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 percent. 
Notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, other services, 
and local government education were partially offset by losses 
in temporary help services and in couriers and messengers.
     Substantial job losses related to the coronavirus (COVID-
19) pandemic first occurred in March (-1.7 million) and April 
(-20.7 million) of 2020. As economic activity resumed, 
employment increased by 12.6 million from May through November 
but declined again in December (-306,000) following a surge in 
the number of coronavirus cases. Job growth restarted in January 
of this year, and nonfarm payroll employment has increased by 
1.8 million over the past 4 months. However, payroll employment 
is down by 8.2 million, or 5.4 percent, from the pre-pandemic 
employment peak in February 2020.
     Leisure and hospitality gained 331,000 jobs in April, as 
pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in many parts of 
the country. This followed job gains of 619,000 in February and 
March combined. Within the industry, job growth in food services 
and drinking places (+187,000) accounted for more than half of 
the April increase. Employment also rose in amusements, 
gambling, and recreation (+73,000) and in accommodation 
(+54,000). While leisure and hospitality has added 5.4 million 
jobs over the year, employment in the industry is down by 2.8 
million, or 16.8 percent, since February 2020. 

     In April, employment in the other services industry 
increased by 44,000 but is down by 352,000 since February 2020. 
Over the month, job gains occurred in repair and maintenance 
(+14,000) and in personal and laundry services (+14,000). 

     Local government education added 31,000 jobs in April, 
following a gain of 28,000 in the prior month. Employment in 
local government education has fluctuated in recent months but 
is down by 611,000 since February 2020.   

     In April, social assistance employment rose by 23,000, with 
about half of the gain in child day care services (+12,000). 
Employment in social assistance is 286,000 lower than in 
February 2020. 
     Financial activities added 19,000 jobs in April, with most 
of the gain in real estate and rental and leasing (+17,000). 
Employment in financial activities is down by 63,000 since 
February 2020. 
     Within professional and business services, employment 
decreased by 111,000 in temporary help services in April, 
following little change in the previous month. Employment in 
temporary help services is 296,000 lower than in February 2020. 
Elsewhere in professional and business services, job losses 
occurred in business support services in April (-15,000), while 
architectural and engineering services (+12,000) and scientific 
research and development services (+7,000) added jobs. 

     Within transportation and warehousing, employment in 
couriers and messengers fell by 77,000 in April but is up by 
126,000 since February 2020. Air transportation added 7,000 jobs 
in April. Overall, employment in transportation and warehousing 
is down by 142,000 since February 2020.

     Manufacturing employment edged down by 18,000 in April. 
Within the industry, job losses in motor vehicles and parts 
(-27,000) and wood products (-7,000) were partially offset by 
job gains in miscellaneous durable goods (+13,000) and chemicals 
(+4,000). Since February 2020, employment in manufacturing is 
down by 515,000.	 

     Employment in retail trade changed little in April 
(-15,000), following a gain in the prior month (+33,000). Within 
the industry, April job losses in food and beverage stores 
(-49,000), general merchandise stores (-10,000), and gasoline 
stations (-9,000) were partially offset by job gains in sporting 
goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+20,000); clothing and 
clothing accessories stores (+10,000); and health and personal 
care stores (+9,000). Overall, employment in retail trade is 
400,000 lower than in February 2020.  

     Health care employment changed little in April (-4,000). 
Ambulatory health care services added 21,000 jobs, while nursing 
care facilities continued to lose jobs (-19,000). Health care 
employment is 542,000 below the February 2020 level. 
     Construction employment was unchanged in April. Employment 
in the industry is up by 917,000 over the year but is 196,000 
lower than in February 2020. 
     Employment in other major industries--including mining, 
wholesale trade, and information--showed little change over the 

     Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers 
increased by 0.1 hour in April to 35.0 hours. In April, the 
average workweek for manufacturing was unchanged at 40.5 hours. 

     Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls increased by 21 cents to $30.17 in April, following a 
decline of 4 cents in the prior month. The data for April 
suggest that the rising demand for labor associated with the 
recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on 
wages. Since average hourly earnings vary widely across 
industries, the large employment fluctuations since February 
2020 complicate the analysis of recent trends in average hourly 

     Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed 
people changed little in April, at 6.1 percent and 9.8 million, 
respectively. Both measures have fallen from their recent peaks 
in April 2020 but remain well above their February 2020 levels 
(at 3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively). 
     Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for 
adult men (6.1 percent), adult women (5.6 percent), teenagers 
(12.3 percent), Whites (5.3 percent), Blacks (9.7 percent), 
Asians (5.7 percent), and Hispanics (7.9 percent) showed little 
or no change in April.  

     Among the unemployed, the number of people on temporary 
layoff was little changed at 2.1 million in April. This measure 
is down considerably from a peak of 18.0 million in April 2020 
but is 1.4 million higher than in February 2020. The number of 
permanent job losers, at 3.5 million, was little changed in 
April but is 2.2 million higher than in February 2020.

     By duration of unemployment, the number of people searching 
for work for less than 5 weeks increased by 237,000 in April to 
2.4 million. The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or 
more (often referred to as the long-term unemployed) was 
essentially unchanged over the month at 4.2 million but is up by 
3.1 million since February 2020. In April, the long-term 
unemployed accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. 

     The labor force participation rate, at 61.7 percent, was 
little changed over the month. This measure is 1.6 percentage 
points lower than in February 2020. The employment-population 
ratio, at 57.9 percent, also changed little in April. This 
measure is up by 0.5 percentage point since December 2020 but is 
3.2 percentage points lower than in February 2020. 

     In April, the number of people working part time for 
economic reasons decreased by 583,000 to 5.2 million, reflecting 
a drop in the number of people whose hours were cut due to slack 
work or business conditions. The number of people working part 
time for economic reasons is down from a peak of 10.9 million in 
April 2020 but is 845,000 higher than in February 2020. 

     At 6.6 million, the number of people not in the labor force 
who currently want a job changed little in April. This measure 
is down from a peak of 9.9 million a year earlier but is 1.6 
million higher than in February 2020. Among those not in the 
labor force who wanted a job, the number of people marginally 
attached to the labor force was essentially unchanged at 1.9 
million in April. (People who are marginally attached to the 
labor force had not actively looked for work in the 4 weeks 
prior to the survey but had looked for a job within the last 12 
months.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the 
marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for 
them, was little changed over the month at 565,000. 

     As in previous months, some workers affected by the 
pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff in April were instead misclassified as employed 
but not at work. Since March 2020, BLS has published an estimate 
of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified 
workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same 
approach, the seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate would 
have been 0.3 percentage point higher than reported. Additional 
information about the misclassification, as well as information 
about response rates for both the household and establishment 
surveys, is available on the BLS website at
     Looking at supplemental pandemic-related measures from the 
household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), the share of employed people who teleworked in April 
because of the coronavirus pandemic declined to 18.3 percent. 
These data refer only to employed people who teleworked or 
worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks 
specifically because of the pandemic; they do not include all 
instances of telework. 
     In April, the number of people who reported that they had 
been unable to work because their employer closed or lost 
business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all 
or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to 
the pandemic--fell by 2.0 million to 9.4 million. Among those 
who reported in April that they were unable to work because of 
pandemic-related closures or lost business, 9.3 percent received 
at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, 
little changed from the prior month. 
     Among those not in the labor force in April, 2.8 million 
people were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, 
down from 3.7 million in the prior month. (To be counted as 
unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively 
searching for work or on temporary layoff.)
     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in 
April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 

Last Modified Date: May 07, 2021