The numbers: The economy generated a solid 164,000 jobs in April to push the unemployment rate below 4% for the first time since Bill Clinton was president, a sign the surging labor market shows no signs ebbing.
April's job report is out.
The average monthly increase in total USA employment through the first one-third of this year has been +200,000. That number was revised to a gain of 135,000 jobs in today's report.
There has been an increase in reports of employers, especially in the construction and manufacturing sectors, struggling to find qualified workers.
With a reported 3.9-percent unemployment rate, April became one of six months in almost 40 years when the figure fell below 4 percent. The national unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the first sub-4% unemployment figure since 2000. The US unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in April, the strongest level since the turn of the century, despite the fact that fewer nonfarm payrolls were added to the economy than had been anticipated.
USA employers are expecting hiring to pick up in the second quarter, with one in five planning to add staff, according to the latest "Employment Outlook Survey", by ManpowerGroup.
After the jobs data, the 10-year Treasury yield eased to 2.935% while the 2-year yield, which more closely tracks Fed rate expectations, held around 2.49%. That left the annual increase in average hourly earnings at 2.6 per cent.
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But despite these gains, wage increases have barely kept pace with inflation.
The average work week for all private employees was unchanged, at 34.5 hours. That would keep the central bank on track to raise interest rates in June for the second time this year and once or twice more after that in 2018.
Economists interpreted symmetric to mean policymakers would not be too anxious with inflation overshooting the target.
The lowest unemployment rate the US ever achieved was 1.2 percent in 1944. The unemployment rate includes anyone 16 or older who is actively searching for work in its calculation, which means students, retirees and others not in the labor force are excluded. It stands to reason that wage growth will continue to accelerate as the untapped portion of the labor pool continues to evaporate.
Two Fed officials who are now voting members of the central bank's rate-setting committee showed little concern on Friday about price pressures heating up and said they were keeping an open mind on the total number of rate increases needed this year.
The simple story, then, is that the economy is adding somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs a month, just enough people are entering the workforce to offset all the baby boomers' retirements, and wage growth is stuck at a level that suggests the recovery still has a ways to go.