Unemployment Highest Since October 1998

May 4, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The unemployment rate jumped to 4.5% in April, up from 4.3% in the previous month and higher than expectations.

The figure, released by the Department of Labor, increased for the second consecutive month, reaching levels not seen since October 1998.

Businesses cut their payrolls for the second consecutive month, with jobs falling in April by 223,000, the largest reduction since February 1991, when payrolls fell by 259,000.

The data release shows that in April,

  • manufacturing lost 104,000 jobs,
  • construction lost 64,000 jobs
  • jobs in business services fell by 121,000
  • with temporary employment services declining by 108,000.

Average hourly earnings, a key gauge of inflation, rose by 0.4% to $14.22 an hour, matching the previous month’s gain. The length of the average workweek was unchanged at 34.3 hours in April.