NEW YORK — If you have a job today, chances are very good you can keep it. Layoffs are pretty much non-existent in today’s economy.
The April jobs report showed the unemployment rate improved to 5.4%, the lowest level in about seven years. There was a net gain of 223,000 jobs during the month, but just as important is the fact that job losses have slowed to a trickle.
Only 4.1 million people lost jobs in the month — the lowest number in eight years. During the worst period for the labor market, from 2009 to 2011, there were between 8 and 10 million people losing their jobs every month.
A separate reading shows that the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending April 25 was the lowest since white hot labor market in April 2000.
The lack of layoffs is a very good sign for both the current labor market, and for things to come, according to John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities. Before businesses commit to adding a lot of jobs, the first thing they do is stop trimming the staff they have.
“If you really want to know the outlook for 6 months to a year, [look at] jobless claims, not hiring,” said Silvia. “Firms may not be certain about adding staff quite yet. But they are saying ‘I’m comfortable with what I have right now.'”
Energy is one sector that is still dealing with layoffs as drilling projects grind to a halt amid low oil prices. But layoffs are way down in some of the other sectors that were major sources of job cuts a year ago, including banks, media and government according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
More people are also quitting their jobs, according to a separate reading from the Labor Department, which is also good news.
People generally quit when they’ve been offered a better job, or because they’re confident that they can find a better job. About 2.7 million people quit their jobs in February, the most recent month for which figures are available. That’s up more than 10% from the number of people who were quitting a year earlier.