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The New Economy

Are worst US job losses now over?

By / May 6, 2009

Retired autoworker Hermann Emmert attended the America Fights Back rally in Warren, Ohio, Saturday, which was aimed at looking for solutions to the unemployment crisis. A new report Wednesday suggests that the pace of job losses is slowing.

Amy Sancetta/AP

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The United States is losing jobs at its slowest pace since October, according to a private report released Wednesday.

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Total private-sector employment fell by 491,000 jobs in April, according to the ADP national employment report. While still a huge loss, it is the smallest decline since October, when the private sector lost 352,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted). The report, based on ADP's payroll data, is designed to pattern the federal government's unemployment report, which is due out on Friday.

The biggest reason behind the slowing pace of unemployment were smaller losses in the service sector. For the first time in six months, the service sector lost fewer jobs than goods-producing industries: 229,000 vs. 262,000.

That represents a 40 percent decline from the service sector's job losses in March. It's particularly striking since the service sector is so much larger, employing more than four times the number of workers that the goods-producing sector does.

The smaller decline in jobs does not signal a turnaround, but it's one more encouraging sign that the economy is contracting at a slower pace. (Click here for others from the Good News Economist.)

"Employment, which usually trails overall economic activity, is likely to decline for at least several more months, although perhaps not as rapidly as during the last six months,” said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, in a statement. The company partners with ADP to put out the monthly report.

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