For the fourth month in a row employers cut jobs, the Labor Department reported, although the 20,000 job losses in April were far fewer than the 81,000 in March. In addition, the government reported that the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5% in April from 5.1% the prior month. The unemployment rate is derived from a different survey than the payroll figures.
The latest snapshot of the nation’s job market – while clearly weak – was better than many economists were expecting. Some expected job cuts of 75,000 and for the unemployment rate to climb to 5.2%. Construction companies slashed 61,000 positions in April. Manufacturers cut 46,000 and retailers slashed 27,000. Those losses were offset by job gains in education and health care, professional and business services, the government and elsewhere. The job losses came in areas hardest hit by the housing and credit debacles.