Foodservice Equipment Reports

BLS Reports Surprisingly Strong Jobs Growth In April

Maybe the two surprises are related. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said last Friday, May 6, that non-farm payroll jobs increased by 244,000 in April, surprising most forecasters, who expected growth in the 175,000-200,000 range. We noted that we were surprised by an increase in the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index in March, despite the rapid run-up in gasoline prices. Perhaps having more people working is overcoming any negative effects of higher gas prices when it comes to consumer foodservice activity. There’s no question the equities markets took the news as a sign that gas and food price inflation was not undermining the economic recovery in the U.S.  All major stock indexes rose sharply in Friday’s trading.

The BLS also revised upward the number of net jobs added in February (194,000 to 235,000) and March (216,000 to 224,000). Payroll employment has thus exceeded 220,000 a month for three consecutive months, the best three-month average since 2006.

Unfortunately, despite the strong growth, the number of unemployed and under-employed actually rose slightly during April, up 372,000 to 22,347,000. This pushed the unemployed rate back up to 9% from 8.8% in March. In other words, the U.S. economy is still not producing enough jobs to absorb all those who lost theirs during the Great Recession or who are just entering the workforce.