Labor report: Pace of hiring in U.S. slows

The pace of hiring slowed in the United States in April with the smallest gain in payrolls in seven months.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent.

The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls increased an estimated 160,000 in April.

Payroll gains topped 200,000 in five of the six previous months and have averaged 232,000 a month over the past year.

Estimates for payroll gains in March and February were revised downward, though, a total of 19,000 to 233,000 and 208,000, respectively.

For April, 7.9 million people were counted among the unemployed. Of those, 2.1 million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Another 6 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours have been cut or they’re unable to find full-time positions.

The labor force participation rate slipped two-tenths of a point to 62.8 percent with 568,000 people counted as discouraged workers not looking for jobs.

Most of the payroll gains for April were spread out among three industry sectors. Professional and business services added 65,000 jobs, while employment rose 44,000 in health care and 20,000 in financial activities.

Mining payrolls shrank 7,000, bringing to 191,000 the decrease in employment in the sector since September 2014. About
75 percent of the layoffs have occurred in support activities as oil and natural gas development has slowed because of low commodity prices.

Employment in the other sectors, including construction and manufacturing, was little changed.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls edged up a tenth of an hour to 34.5 hours in April. The manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.7 hours.

Average earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 8 cents to $25.53. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.5 percent.