Private Sector Has Slowest Hiring Month of Pandemic Era

What Wednesday’s Economic Reports Tell Us

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The U.S. private sector added about half as many jobs in April as in March and the international trade deficit jumped to yet another record high, reports showed Wednesday.

Here’s a quick look at the most significant economic indicators of the day and what they tell us.

ADP National Employment Report

  • The U.S. private sector added 247,000 jobs in April, about half of what it added in March and the fewest for any month of the pandemic recovery, payroll processing company ADP reported. Economists had expected 390,000. 
  • Small businesses are losing the recruiting battle to companies that can pay more, ADP said. Companies with under 50 employees lost 120,000 jobs, while medium and large ones gained 367,000.
  • The figures show that while the economy continues to regain the jobs lost when the pandemic hit, the growth is slowing because businesses are increasingly having a hard time finding workers, ADP economists said. “Job growth will slow over the course of 2022, not because of a lack of demand for labor, but a lack of supply,” PNC Chief Economist Gus Faucher said in a commentary. 
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its job growth numbers for April on Friday, including government jobs. Economists expect that report to show a similar pattern of slowing. 

International Trade in Goods and Services

  • The U.S. imported $109.8 billion more in goods and services than it exported in March, a 22% jump from February’s trade deficit, and the latest of many recent all-time highs, the Census Bureau said. 
  • While exports grew to a record high in March (in data going back to 1992), imports grew even faster, intensifying a pattern that has prevailed since the pandemic hit. U.S. consumers have shifted their spending from services to physical things, and many of those come from foreign countries, economists said. The trade deficit was a major reason the gross domestic product shrunk in the first quarter of 2022, and economists expect it will weigh heavily on the second quarter as well.

Mortgage Applications

  • For the first time since early March, the average 30-year mortgage rate dipped and the volume of mortgage applications increased, the Mortgage Bankers Association said. Applications dropped 2.5% and the 30-year average fell very slightly to 5.36% last week.
  • Mortgage applications have fallen off, especially for refinancing an existing loan, as rates have spiked and home prices have soared. Both trends have been brutal for prospective borrowers’ budgets.

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