Nonfarm payrolls added 211,000 jobs last month, according to this month’s Employment Situation Summary from the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.4 percent — the lowest rate in 10 years.
While the labor force participation rate and long-term unemployment rate stayed flat, the number of workers employed part-time for economic reasons declined by 281,000 in April.
“The momentum in the job market is really impressive. I’m frankly surprised that this late into an expansion the economy is still adding jobs well above the steady-state pace,” Jason Furman, chief economic adviser during the Obama administration, told The New York Times.
Furman added that he wasn’t concerned about the labor force participation rate, pointing to baby boomers leaving the job marker due to retirement. “Flat means people are coming back in,” he said.
The Industries Adding Jobs
The following industries added jobs last month:
- Leisure and hospitality (+55,000 jobs)
- Professional/business services (+39,000 jobs)
- Healthcare and social assistance (+37,000 jobs)
- Financial activities (+19,000 jobs)
- Mining (+9,000 jobs)
Other industries remained essentially flat for the month, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, government, and information.
Wages Are Growing
Average hourly earnings for employees in the private sector rose by 7 cents to $26.19 last month, after increasing by 5 cents in March. However, Reuters reports that April’s gain was partly due to a “calendar quirk.”
“While that lowered the year-on-year increase to 2.5 percent, the smallest since August 2016, there are signs that wage growth is accelerating as labor market slack diminishes,” per Reuters.
Will wages continue growing? As always, it depends on whether employers have to increase wages to hire the workers they want.
At The New York Times, Patricia Cohen writes:
Employers must decide whether to buy skills or build them, said Michael Stull, a senior vice president at the staffing company Manpower North America. The small pressure on wages is evidence that they have been trying to buy them, he said, but more businesses are expressing an interest in partnerships with educational institutions or developing skills so that new hires “can earn while they learn.”
The PayScale Index, which measures the change in pay for employed U.S. workers, recorded 0.5 percent quarterly wage growth for Q1 2017.
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