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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 8, 2009

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data we released this morning.
     Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 539,000 in April, and
the unemployment rate rose from 8.5 to 8.9 percent.  Since the
start of the recession in December 2007, job losses have totaled
5.7 million, and the unemployment rate has increased by 4
percentage points.
     In April, widespread job losses continued throughout the
private sector.  Private employment fell by 611,000, compared
with average monthly declines of 700,000 in the prior 4 months.
Over the month, federal government employment rose by 66,000,
mainly due to hiring of temporary workers in preparation for
Census 2010.
     Manufacturing employment fell by 149,000 over the month, and
job losses continued to be widespread.  Since the recession
began, this industry has shed 1.6 million jobs, representing more
than a quarter of the total nonfarm job decline during the
     Construction employment decreased by 110,000 in April.  Job
losses have averaged 120,000 per month in the last 6 months,
compared with 46,000 per month from December 2007 to October
     Elsewhere in the goods-producing sector, mining employment
fell by 10,000 in April.  From the start of the recession through
September 2008, this industry had continued to add jobs, mainly
those related to oil and gas production.  Since September, mining
employment has declined by 44,000.
     In April, employment in professional and business services
dropped by 122,000.  Temporary help services accounted for about
half of the job loss.  Since the start of the recession,
temporary help employment has fallen by 825,000, nearly a third
of its total.
     The health care industry added 17,000 jobs over the month,
in line with its average monthly gain since January.  In 2008,
the average gain was 30,000 jobs per month.
     In April, average hourly earnings for production and
nonsupervisory workers in the private sector were essentially
unchanged.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
risen by 3.2 percent.  From March 2008 to March 2009, the
Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
declined by 1.0 percent.
     Turning now to measures from the survey of households, the
unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April, an increase of
four-tenths of a percentage point.  The number of unemployed
persons increased by 563,000 to 13.7 million.  Since the start of
the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed has
risen by 6.2 million, pushing the jobless rate up by 4 percentage
     Over the month, the number of long-term unemployed continued
to grow, rising by 498,000 to 3.7 million.  The long-term 
jobless represented 27.2 percent of all unemployed persons in 
April, the highest proportion on record.
     The employment-population ratio held at 59.9 percent in
April.  When the recession began in December 2007, it was 62.7
percent.  Among the employed, the number of persons working part
time who would prefer full-time work was little changed over the
month at 8.9 million.
     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment fell by 539,000 in
April.  Private-sector employment dropped by 611,000.  Job losses
continued to be widespread across most major industries.  Since
the recession began, payroll employment has fallen by 5.7
million.  Over the month, the unemployment rate rose by
four-tenths of a percentage point to 8.9 percent.
     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your

Last Modified Date: May 08, 2009