US Unemployment rate drops to lowest level in a decade in April

The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April as the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed, a strong rebound that is likely to calm fears that growth was slowing following several dismal economic readings in the past month. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.4 percent, the lowest level seen since May 2007. Average hourly earnings rose by 2.5 percent from the previous year to $26.19, slightly slower growth than was seen in previous months. “The American job machine returned to form in April,” James Marple, senior economist at TD Economics, wrote in a note. “The re-acceleration in jobs should assuage fears that economic growth is slowing in any meaningful way.” Job gains were seen in mining and manufacturing, sectors that are relatively small but have been closely watched due to the Trump administration’s vows to boost employment in the industries. The bulk of the job gains made in April came from the much larger sectors of leisure and hospitality, education and health, and business services. Economists were widely reassured by additions to the job markets and the larger-than-expected drop in the unemployment rate. But they noted that the progress in the economy still does not appear to be translating into big wage increases for workers — something that many had expected by now. “Two hundred thousand for jobs growth is just such a huge number, you’d think we’d get to a point where employers have to raise wages, and we’re still not seeing it,” said Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University. America’s monthly jobs report can be hard to understand. Here’s what you need to know about non-farm payroll employment and the unemployment rate—with gummy bears to help explain. (Kate M. Tobey, Gillian Brockell, Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)
The number of new jobs created in April was widely expected to rebound following a disappointing figure in March that was due primarily to inclement weather. But the April figure surpassed the 190,000 jobs anticipated by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. While January and February were unseasonably warm, pulling up the number of jobs created in the month in industries like construction, March saw surprise snowstorms that led to a lower-than-expected initial reading of 98,000.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the change for March was revised down further, to 79,000. However, the change for February was revised up from 219,000 to 232,000, translating into a net downward revision of 6,000 jobs for the two months in total. Last week, federal economists reported that the U.S. gross domestic product expanded at its slowest pace in three years in the first quarter, a figure attributed to persistent measurement issues. The U.S. central bank cited the slow-down in its decision Wednesday to leave its influential interest rate unchanged. While it acknowledged that the economy has been expanding at a slower pace of late, the Federal Reserve said that the slowdown is likely “transitory.” On Friday morning after the jobs report was released, futures markets pointed to a 78.5 percent chance that central bank officials would lift interest rates when they next meet in June. “A rate hike in June is more likely than not,” Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, wrote in a note Friday. In addition to the drop in the headline unemployment rate, which measures people who are actively looking for work but unable to find it, broader measures of unemployment and underemployment continue to improve. The U-6 rate — a broader measure of underemployment that includes those who have given up looking for work and who are part-time but would like to be full-time – fell to 8.6 percent in the month, the lowest level seen since 2007. Meanwhile, persistent racial disparities remain. The unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent among whites and 3.2 percent among Asians, while the unemployment rate is 7.9 percent among African Americans and 5.2 percent among Hispanics. None of those rates changed from the month before. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent in April among adult men, though it remained at 4.1 percent for adult women.-washington post

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