Jobs Growth Slows in April

By at 3 May, 2024, 12:29 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

The latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a slowdown in nonfarm payroll employment gains. The establishment survey estimated that payroll gains registered 175,000 in April, which was the smallest gain since October of last year.

Meanwhile, the report’s household survey, which better captures small business and start-up activity, pointed to employment basically being flat (+25,000) in April, while there was a slight (+87,000) increase in the labor force.

As a result, the labor force participation rate remained steady at 62.7 percent in April, and the employment-population ratio edged down to 60.2 percent in April from 60.3 percent in March.

A Look at Self-Employment

But this report also offers a look at self-employment numbers, or full-time entrepreneurship – that is, individuals identifying entrepreneurship as their full-time work, and they may or may not have employees. Unincorporated self-employment data is seasonally adjusted, and the April level of 9.95 million was down versus 10.18 million in March.

Meanwhile, incorporated self-employment data is not seasonally adjusted, so we need to compare the current numbers versus that same point in previous years. The April 2024 level of 6.69 million was up versus 6.40 million in April 2023.

Combining non-seasonally adjusted unincorporated and incorporated data, total full-time entrepreneurship grew from 16.15 million in April 2023 to 16.58 million in April 2024. That gain is welcome, though the previously mentioned decline in seasonally adjusted unincorporated businesses must be kept in mind.

Finally, given centrality of entrepreneurship to economic growth, elected officials need to focus on policies that work in favor of entrepreneurship – such as tax and regulatory relief, and free trade – rather than making it more costly to start up, build and invest in businesses.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His latest books on the economy are The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist, The Weekly Economist II: 52 More Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist and The Weekly Economist III: Another 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.


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