New York City continued to add jobs in April, and this time the gain was big enough to lower the city’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, the state’s Labor Department reported on Thursday.
The hiring, which was strong in construction- and tourism-related businesses, helped to reverse a nearly yearlong climb in the city’s unemployment rate. It now stands at 9.5 percent, down from 9.7 percent in March, but still well above the national rate of 8.1 percent.
About half of the city’s drop in the unemployment rate was caused by a decrease in the number of unemployed residents, while the rest is attributable to a decline in the number of people looking for work, said James P. Brown, principal economist for the Labor Department. People have to be trying to find jobs to count as unemployed. But when the prospects for finding work are poor, some people give up searching.
The tally of jobs in the city, which is derived from a separate survey of employers, has been rising this year, even as the unemployment rate, until last month, climbed. Since April 2011, the number of private-sector jobs in the city has increased by 66,100, or 2 percent. That is faster than the national job growth rate of 1.8 percent in the past year, the Labor Department said.
But, in an apparent contradiction, the city’s unemployment rate remains much higher than the 8.8 percent recorded in April 2011.
“You’d expect it to be trending down more,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s still noticeably above its year-earlier levels. That’s not great news.”
On the other hand, Mr. Brown said, the employment gains were encouraging, especially in construction, an industry that had been stalled for many months. The city added about 4,700 construction jobs in April as developers “seem to be restarting some of those abandoned co-op and condo projects outside of Manhattan,” he said.
The leisure and hospitality industries added about 7,800 jobs, which Mr. Brown said was in line with the usual April pattern. “This is a month when the tourism industry starts to hit its stride,” he said.
On Wall Street, employers were not so bullish, though. They cut about 1,000 jobs last month and more layoffs appear to be on the way, Mr. Brown said.
Outside New York City, the state did not appear to be in the same hiring mode. Even with the city’s gains, the increase in private-sector jobs for the entire state was just 100, the Labor Department said. The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 8.5 percent in April.