Construction job boom fueled April employment gains, while manufacturing stalled

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Construction and manufacturing — two bedrock sectors of the American economy — landed on opposite ends of April's jobs report.

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Construction companies added 45,000 jobs during the month, bringing their year-to-date total to 108,000. Most of April's gains came from the "specialty trade contractors" subsector, which includes carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters.

By contrast, manufacturing job growth remained basically flat, reflecting the beating the industry is taking from the rise in the value of the dollar. A strong dollar makes U.S. exports less competitive in overseas markets because they become more expensive. It also makes imports cheaper for U.S. consumers.

Manufacturers added just 1,000 jobs in March and April combined.

Overall, U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, the lowest level since May 2008.

Industry (change from previous month) April 2015 March 2015 Year to date Past 12 months
Construction 45,000 -9,000 108,000 280,000
Manufacturing 1,000 0 21,000 180,000
Retail 12,100 24,500 95,100 284,900
Transportation, warehousing 15,200 8,100 19,600 164,200
Information (Telecom, publishing) 3,000 0 16,000 55,000
Financial services 9,000 7,000 44,000 151,000
Professional services (Accounting, engineering, temp work) 62,000 35,000 166,000 654,000
Education and health 61,000 35,000 199,000 564,000
Hotels, restaurants, entertainment 17,000 -6,000 96,000 434,000
Government 10,000 -9,000 5,000 64,000
Source: Labor Department