Employers added 428,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, beating the 391,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. It marked the 12th consecutive month that job gains topped 400,000. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, held steady at 3.6%, the lowest level since February 2020.
"Today’s firm payroll data is good in that it confirms that the labor market is strong and suggests the U.S. economy may be sufficiently resilient to deal with the forthcoming monetary tightening, but bad in that it likely implies the Federal Reserve needs to do some seriously heavy lifting in order to slow activity down and subdue price pressures," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.
Job gains were broad-based across industries.
Leisure and hospitality, one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic that has become a bellwether of sorts for the economic recovery, saw a gain of 78,000 new jobs last month. Restaurants and bars saw an increase of 43,800, while hotels added 22,300 jobs last month. In all, employment in the sector is down by about 1.4 million, or 8.5%, since February 2020.
"Job gains were widespread, with the largest gains occurring in leisure and hospitality, in manufacturing and in transportation and warehousing. However, nonfarm employment is down by 1.2 million, or 0.8 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020," the report said.
Manufacturing saw the second-largest job growth in April, with the industry adding 55,000 new positions last month. Most of the gains stemmed from hiring at durable goods factories (31,000), with wood product producers accounting for 3,600 jobs, machinery makers adding 7,400 and computer electronic producers adding another 3,700.
Transportation equipment factories also saw a hiring boom with 13,700 new jobs added.
Education and health services also accounted for some of the biggest gains last month with payrolls climbing by 59,000 in April. The biggest gains were in ambulatory health care services (27,900), hospitals (4,500) and social assistance (6,600).
Professional and business services, meanwhile, saw payrolls jump by 41,000 last month. The increases were widespread across the industry. Computer systems design and related services rose by 4,200, accounting and bookkeeping services jumped by 5,400 and scientific research and development services was up by 7,300. Employment in the industry is actually 738,000 jobs higher than it was in February 2020.
Employment in other industries, including financial activities (35,000), wholesale trade (22,200) and government (22,000) also rose last month.