U.S. advertising employment rose by 1,900 jobs in April
Employment in advertising, public relations and related services rose by 1,900 jobs in April.
The job gains came as U.S. employers in April added a disappointing 266,000 jobs, a significant pullback from the hiring seen during the previous month, according to the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Digital media continued to be the ad industry’s bright spot, with internet media staffing breaking a new record.
U.S. employment in the BLS classification of advertising, public relations and related services increased to 440,600 jobs in April, the third month of growth since ad jobs hit a pandemic period low of 432,100 in January.
The increase in advertising employment last month came in above the downwardly revised March gain of 1,200 ad jobs but well below February’s upward revision of 5,400 jobs.
This BLS bucket includes ad agencies, PR agencies and related services such as media buying, media reps, outdoor advertising, direct mail and other services related to advertising. Ad agencies account for the biggest portion—about 43%—of jobs in that BLS bucket.
U.S. ad agencies cut 200 jobs in March, a weak showing following a downwardly revised gain of 1,900 jobs in February.
BLS reports ad agency employment on a one-month lag, so April figures aren’t yet available. But the uptick in April advertising, public relations and related services staffing suggests that ad agencies were adding some jobs last month.
Agencies are watching staffing levels closely. Even before the COVID-induced recession began in February 2020, ad agency employment had trended downward from the record high of 208,800 jobs reached in 2018.
Agency job cuts before and during the coronavirus pandemic aren’t a surprise. Labor is the biggest cost for agencies, and the agency business was grappling with sluggish growth even before the recession.
U.S. ad agency employment tends to peak earlier than the overall U.S. job market in the waning days of a business cycle’s economic expansion before a recession. On the flip side, agencies generally are cautious about adding employees as the economy recovers, resulting in a lag in staffing growth.
U.S. internet media employment in March rose by 2,200 jobs, reaching an all-time high of 301,200 jobs and crossing the 300,000 point for the first time.
As with ad agencies, internet media staffing is reported with a one-month delay.
Digital media firms have prospered during the pandemic, and that has translated into solid job growth. U.S. staffing at internet media businesses rebounded quickly from a brief dip in the early stages of the pandemic last spring.
The nation in April added 266,000 jobs, coming in well below expectations. The economy added a downwardly revised 770,000 jobs in March and an upwardly revised 536,000 jobs in February.
Following an unprecedented loss of 20.7 million jobs in April 2020 as the nation locked down, the economy has added jobs every month except for December. But the total U.S. nonfarm payroll is still 8.2 million jobs below its February 2020 all-time high.
The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 6.1% in April from 6.0% in March.
The unemployment rate in February 2020 stood at 3.5%. In April 2020, it reached 14.8%, the highest level since before World War II.
Ad Age Datacenter subscribers can see an expanded table showing advertising employment back to 2000 at AdAge.com/adjobs.