The job market turns?

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Two intriguing job market data points this morning:

1) “Automatic Data Processing, a payroll-processing firm, said private-sector employment decreased by 491,000 in April, a 31% improvement from the revised 708,000 drop in March. Economists surveyed by had expected a loss of 643,000 jobs last month.”

2) “Separately, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reported that the number of layoffs announced in April fell for the third straight month. Job cut announcements by U.S. employers totaled 132,590 in April, an improvement of 12% from March’s 150,411 cuts. It was the lowest total since last October, according to Challenger, but the April figure was still 47% higher than job cuts announced in the same month a year ago.”

The ADP survey has had a mixed record in predicting official monthly employment numbers (which will be released on Friday). And I don’t know if the Challenger survey has any predictive power at all (I never see it cited in the economists’ reports I read). Still, a marked slowing in the pace of job destruction would be the clearest sign yet that the economy has in fact turned and may even start growing later this year. So I’m all for grasping at a few straws at this point. I remain extremely dubious that we’re going to see a lot in the way of job creation for a while. But the beginning of the end of the Great Recession? Maybe so.