U.S. employment is 501,000 lower than believed after revisions

U.S. employment is 501,000 lower than believed after revisions

The labor market seemed to defy gravity last year, generating more than 200,000 jobs a month despite a historically low unemployment rate that made it harder for employers to find workers.

Turns out job growth wasn’t as robust as it appeared.

The Labor Department revised down total job gains from April 2018 to March 2019 by 501,000, the agency said Wednesday, the largest downward revision in a decade.

The agency’s annual benchmark revision is based on state unemployment insurance records that reflect actual payrolls while its earlier estimates are derived from surveys.

The large change means that job growth averaged 170,000 a month during the 12-month period, down from the 210,000 initially estimated.

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Employment in several industries was revised down especially sharply. Payrolls dropped 175,000 in leisure and hospitality, and 146,000 in retail – two bellwether service sectors that depend heavily on consumer spending, the economy’s main engine.

Employment also fell by 163,000 in professional and business services.

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