Hire Wire May 04 2012

Finance Sector Gained Only 1K Jobs In April

By Julie Steinberg

The finance sector added just 1,000 jobs last month, a heavy setback from March's gain of 15,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The finance unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% in April, down from 6.7% in the same month a year ago. The broader economy added only 115,000 jobs in April, down from March's revised figure of 154,000 jobs. The overall unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.1%.

Over the course of last year, finance has gained on average about 3,000 jobs a month, so the April figure isn't too surprising, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight, an Englewood, Colo.-based financial and economic forecasting firm. "March's number was strange, so we've had a correction this month."

The sector lost 3,500 jobs in credit intermediation, which includes commercial banks and mortgage lenders, as well as 500 jobs in securities, commodity contracts and investments, which signifies the investment banks. Job losses in the latter are expected for the next several months as banks continue restructuring their businesses and cutting costs, Gault said.

Insurance gained 3,800 jobs last month, while accounting and bookkeeping gained just 200, far fewer than in recent months.

Still, while some pockets in finance are expected to lose jobs over the next few months, such as securities, commodity contracts and investments, the overall trend for finance is slowly creeping upwards, Gault said.

"The economy is growing at a sluggish pace," he said. "But finance will gradually strengthen over time."

Write to Julie Steinberg at julie.steinberg@dowjones.com

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