The jobs picture may not be as bleak as many pundits feared, with total U.S. employment dropping by only 20,000 jobs in April. It was the fourth-straight monthly decline, but experts had expected as many as 85,000 jobs to be lost. In addition, the unemployment rate, which was anticipated to climb to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent in March, actually shrunk to 5 percent.
The stock market, which has been gaining since early March, figures to celebrate these numbers.
Meanwhile, large layoff announcements keep coming. Sun Microsystems said Thursday it would cut 1,500 to 2,500 jobs; in addition, General Motors said it would lay off about 2,600 workers at three U.S. plants and 900 workers in Canada. Earlier this week, The Financial Times reported that The Royal Bank of Scotland may cut about 7,000 jobs as it absorbs ABN Amro’s investment bank.
In the Friday jobs report, the biggest increases in new jobs were reported in the fields of education and health services, as well as in professional and business services. The biggest declines were in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.