Coming in much lower that the 708,000 jobs cuts in March and 645,000 expected this month, actual April job loss in the U.S. private sector was 491,000, according to a survey by payrolls firm ADP. The data could signal that the prolonged recession may be easing.
"All statistics released recently point to a less pronounced deterioration in the labor market in April," said Natixis bank economist Marie-Pierre Ripert.
ADP said the service-providing sector shed 229,000 jobs while the goods-producing sector cut 262,000 jobs.
Large businesses, defined as those with 500 or more workers, saw employment decline by 77,000, while medium-size businesses with between 50 and 499 workers shed 231,000 jobs.
Employment among small-size businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 workers, declined 183,000.
"The employment declines among medium- and small-size businesses indicate that the recession continues to spread beyond manufacturing and housing-related activities to almost every area of the economy," ADP said.
The government's last weekly jobless claims report on April 30 said new claims for unemployment benefits fell far more than expected. The Labor Department said the number of initial claims in the week ending April 25 fell to a seasonally adjusted 631,000 from the previous week's 645,000, a level revised up by 5,000. The 2.2% decline in new claims was more than double the 1% forecast by most analysts.
The weekly initial claims data, a snapshot on the labor market, has shown new claims above the 600,000 level for nearly three months as the country grapples with a severe recession.
Economists are divided over whether the weekly initial claims, which have doubled since the recession begain in December 2007, have peaked.
The department is to publish April unemployment and payrolls data on May 8.
In the March report, unemployment rose to a 25-year high of 8.5%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009