The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its April employment report, which shows that the U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate going down another tenth of a point to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. (Economists had been expecting to see 140,000 jobs added to the economy in April, which was even lower than their expectations of 190,000 jobs for March.) On Wednesday, ADP and Moodys Analytics released their April job report numbers to the tune of only 119,000 jobs added in April.

The architecture and engineering services segment of the economy had a good month in April, adding 2,700 jobs. This kept up the trend, seen over the past half year: March added 2,100 jobs, February added 3,100 jobs, which followed a blip in hiring from January (a slight loss of 300 jobs), which in turn had followed 3,800 jobs added in December, 2,400 added in November, and 1,500 in October.

All of which tracks with the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI), which slowed its pace of growth in March. If the parallel of the two reports continues, then we should see the score for architecture billings tick up slightly for April. (The release of a month’s architecture billings numbers lags ADP/Moody’s and the BLS’s jobs report numbers by about three weeks.)

The construction industry had a rough month, losing 6,000 jobs overall in April. Gains in residential construction (6,200 jobs added) were offset by losses in nonresidential construction (4,800 jobs lost), heavy and civil engineering construction (3,800 jobs lost), and specialty trade contractors (4,000 jobs lost). And in the trade contractors segment, we see a parallel trend, with residential contractors (at 7,100 jobs added) having a better month than nonresidential contractors (with 11,100 jobs lost). On the bright side, the overall construction segment has averaged 27,000 jobs added over the past six months, with 18,000 jobs added in March, 48,000 jobs added in February, 28,000 added in January, and 30,000 added in December.

In addition, April’s slightly-better-than-expected report has another silver lining. February’s job claims were revised upward for the second straight month (from 268,000 to 332,000; which in turn had been revised up in March from 236,000 to 268,000). That’s 96,000 more jobs added to the economy in February than had been initially reported. March’s numbers were also revised upward, from the abysmal 88,000 initially reported a month ago to a more-respectable 138,000 jobs added.

In all, employment gains were 114,000 jobs better than initially reported over the past two months. This is not something that you would have heard or expected if you had merely been watching and reading hyperbolic coverage of the fallout from the federal budget sequester, and it goes to show that the revised data from these reports is oftentimes far more important than the initial release. Next month, we'll have a better view of what actually happened in April, when we find out if today's 165,000 jobs is revised up or down. A little patience usually allows you to see a clearer picture in the end.

 

 Not Seasonally AdjustedSeasonally Adjusted
Industry (numbers are in thousands)April 2012Feb. 2012March 2013April 2013April 2012Feb. 2012March 2013April 2013Change from March 2013 - April 2013
Architectural and engineering services1,311.41,320.91,325.91,335.21,322.51,340.21,343.21,345.92.7
Construction - all (sum of the below categories)5,4875,3735,4855,6455,6365,7835,7965,790-6
Residential building construction553.4546.5551.8568.5572.0578.3580.2586.46.2
Nonresidential building construction643.6653.4659.3662.0659.7681.5682.2677.4-4.8
Heavy and civil engineering construction844.7791.2808.7856.7869.9897.9887.1883.3-3.8
Specialty trade contractors3,444.83,382.03,465.63,557.33,534.33,624.93,646.63,642.6-4.0