Employers added a robust 290,000 net new payroll jobs in April while February and March numbers were revised higher by a combined 121,000, bringing year-to-date job growth to 573,000. Private sector hiring accounted for 231,000 of the jobs created in April, led by professional and business services with 80,000, leisure and hospitality with 45,000 and manufacturing with 44,000. The unemployment rate increased from 9.7 to 9.9 percent as people who had given up looking for work re-started their searches in response to more opportunities. As a result, the labor force expanded by 805,000, raising the labor force participation rate, which had dropped to a low of 64.6 percent in December, to 65.2 percent in April. Unemployment remains distressingly high, but April’s uptick, caused by more people actively seeking work, suggests a more hopeful outlook. Job growth is the last piece of the economic puzzle necessary to put the recovery on a sustainable course. For commercial real estate, the April employment data combined with the emptying construction pipeline signals that leasing market fundamentals are close to bottoming out.

Robert Bach, Senior Vice President, Chief Economist, has 30 years of professional experience in real estate market research, consulting and city planning. His commentary on the real estate markets is provided here on a weekly basis.