Job gains suggest spending focus on travel, eating out

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U.S. job growth in April returned to the strong pace of the start of the year, but the regional momentum remains mixed and skewed toward the Western and Southeastern states.

A pickup in energy and mining-related jobs among goods industries is driving some signs of turnaround up the middle of the country, notably Texas.

Elsewhere, it is service jobs—led by food service, hotel, and related jobs—that are supporting the strongest regional growth, including improvements in Arizona, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Jobs By State-MacroSavvy
The strength in places that benefit from leisure travel suggests that the revival in Boomer confidence (see post here) may be benefitting spending on vacations much more than retail goods—where recent gains have been mixed (see here).

The mixed spending trends will continue to reflect these job trends to some extent:

  • Job trendsWeak states. Sixteen states are registering weak job growth in recent months. Persisting weakness in energy and mining industries continue to weigh on the weakest states: Wyoming, Alaska, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Mississippi. Also adding to the weakness are job declines in durable goods manufacturing and information-related sectors.
  • Metro market signs. Key energy-focused metro markets such as Houston, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City provide some positive signs that a turnaround may be imminent for the broader energy-dependent region. Houston is registering slight job gains while New Orleans and Oklahoma City are seeing the end of job losses.
  • Strong markets. The strength in the West and Southeast is reflected in the strongest metro markets, which include: Orlando, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, Jacksonville, Riverside (CA), and Las Vegas, among others.

The local differences are hidden amid the overall gain of 211,000 jobs in April—which pushed job gains back up above the 200,000 level after a gain of just 79,000 in March.

See the graphics for detail on the latest job numbers.

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