All signs were pointing to a cooling labor market. Instead, the latest jobs report showed the unemployment rate fell to 3.4% in April after 253,000 jobs were added last month.
But hiring isn’t strong across the board, and is concentrated in a handful of industries.
“Employers continue to hire for in-demand skills while pulling back on non-essential headcount,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president and chief commercial officer at ManpowerGroup, a staffing agency.
Here’s where hiring was strongest
The bulk of the new jobs last month came from gains in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, specialized construction contractors and food and drinking services.
In total these five industries hired 165,000 new workers in April. That amounts to 65% of the overall jobs added.
Professional and business services, which include a wide range of jobs such as accountants, lawyers and engineers, added 43,000 jobs, the biggest gain across all industries. Average hourly earnings for workers in the industry rose by $0.24 to $40.20. That’s 20% higher than what the average private-sector worker earned last month.
Where workers got laid off
Even though the jobs report showed a net positive gain, there were some sizable layoffs.
The largest cuts hit workers who are involved in helping other workers get hired, such as recruiters, careers coaches and human resources professionals. Across that industry, known as employment services, there were 24,000 layoffs last month.
“It’s the year of efficiency,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. “Companies are telling recruiters to do more with less and to cut costs after two years of spending whatever it takes to fill vacancies.”
Some of the other notable job cuts were in transit and ground passenger services, where 8,100 workers were laid off; and building construction, where 3,600 workers were laid off. Transit and passenger service jobs include people who work within mass transit system as well as taxi and school bus drivers.
Commercial real estate is under a lot of stress lately. Many employees continue to work from home, leaving an abundance of office building floors vacant. Higher interest rates have also caused developers to delay new construction projects.