The U.S. economy gained 428,000 jobs in April 2022. The job gains reflect a recovery from the significant uptick in unemployment that happened at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
April's gains help make up for some of the record 20.5 million jobs lost as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the COVID-19 two years ago.
As of April 2022, there were 5.9 million unemployed people in the United States, 224,000 more unemployed people than in February 2020, the month before the pandemic became widespread in the U.S. The big swings in job losses and job gains in 2020 and 2021 reveal the tremendous impact of the pandemic on the U.S. economy.
As the chart below shows, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, job gains skyrocketed in June 2020 as people started working remotely and Paycheck Protection Program funds reached businesses. Gains began to dwindle through the rest of the year, with more people losing jobs in December than gaining them.
Gains during 2021 made a dent in total job losses, and the unemployment rate was very close to pre-pandemic levels.
Where Jobs Were Added
Employment in leisure and hospitality saw gains in April 2022, adding 78,000 jobs. This growth recalls the upward trend from early 2021, but employment in this industry is still down by 1.4 million compared to February 2020.
Employment in professional and business services grew by 41,000 in April. Overall employment in the professional and business services sector is higher than it was in February 2020, by 738,000 jobs.
Healthcare saw gains of 34,000 new jobs in April, though it is still down 1.5%, or 250,000 jobs, from its pre-pandemic level.
April also saw increased employment in the transportation and warehousing sectors, adding 52,000 jobs. This represents an overall growth of 674,000 jobs since February 2020.
Job growth occurred in the retail trade as well, with 29,000 jobs added in April. Retail employment exceeds pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 by 284,000 jobs.
Many industries are seeing gains in employment as more people receive vaccinations and businesses find ways to keep running.
The U.S. Jobs Report Explained
The monthly jobs report is also called the "Employment Situation Summary" and the "Non-Farm Payroll Report." It's a critical economic indicator because it's the first report of the month. It's also the most comprehensive and credible.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys 144,000 non-farm businesses and agencies on the number of jobs, the wages paid, and the hours worked. The jobs report will tell you which industries are adding jobs, whether American workers are working longer hours, and how fast salaries are increasing.
The jobs report also provides the unemployment rate. To get the number of unemployed individuals, the BLS must undertake a separate survey of households instead of businesses. This household report also includes workers' age, gender, and race/ethnicity. The household survey has a more expansive scope than the establishment survey. It includes the self-employed, unpaid family workers, agricultural workers, and private household workers. They are excluded from the establishment survey.
The household survey is not as accurate as the business establishment report, though. This is because it has a smaller sample size. That's why employment numbers are taken from the establishment survey. So the current unemployment statistics often show a different trend than the jobs report.
Other Jobs Reports
There are two other jobs reports. The monthly ADP National Employment Report is released on the Wednesday before the Employment Situation Report. It's produced by the ADP Research Institute, SM, and Moody’s Analytics. It uses business payroll data to report on the number of jobs added in the private sector. It excludes farming, as does the BLS report. More importantly, though, it also excludes government jobs, which are included in the BLS report. For that reason, it's considered incomplete.
The ADP Report is useful because it's released just before the BLS report, giving you an idea of what to expect from the BLS.
The ADP report gives some analysts an earlier view of what might happen in the Friday report. ADP is quick to say it's not intended to be predictive. Like the BLS report, it's revised as more data comes in later in the month. These revised numbers are closely correlated with the revised BLS jobs report.
The Department of Labor also releases a weekly jobless claims report. This measures the claims for initial unemployment benefits reported by each state every week. It also says how many of the unemployed are still receiving benefits. This report gives an indication of trends and indicates whether there are more or less unemployed than the week before.
The main value of this report is that it is weekly, which gives some idea of trends between the monthly jobs reports. However, the weekly report is too volatile to be a reliable method of predicting monthly job gains and losses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What time is the jobs report released?
The jobs report comes out at 8:30 a.m. EST on the first Friday of each month. It covers the prior month. For example, the report released on January 7, 2022, contained information about December 2021.
How does the jobs report affect the stock market?
Investors closely watch for economic data releases like the jobs report. When it comes out, it's typical to see the market react with short-term volatility. However, this reaction isn't always immediately logical. For example, higher unemployment could seem like a negative for stocks, but the market could interpret it as a signal that interest rates will fall (which tends to push stock prices higher).