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Jobs Report: Unemployment Below 4 Percent for the First Time Since 2000

Topics: Current Events
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For the first time since 2000 the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent to 3.9 percent in April.

The jobs report that was released this morning by the labor department showed a gain of 164,000 new jobs in April. That’s less than the 195,000 new jobs that economists forecasted. Still, the gains have pushed the unemployment rate below 4 percent for the first time in almost twenty years.

“We’ve continued to add jobs routinely every month for so long, and the unemployment rate we have reached is amazing,” Catherine Barrera, chief economist of the online job site ZipRecruiter told the New York Times. “It’s very incredible.”

Here are a few other key takeaways from this month’s report:

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  • The unemployment rate for adult women is now down to 3.5 percent. It’s 3.7 percent for adult men. Teenagers have an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent.
  • For whites, unemployment is 3.6 percent. It’s 6.6 percent for blacks and 4.8 percent for Hispanics. The unemployment rate for Asians is currently 2.8 percent. These figures are largely unchanged this month.
  • Yet another month of job growth means that the economy has been expanding for almost nine years. That’s the second longest streak on record.
  • Wage growth is slow. Average earnings rose just 4 cents an hour last month. They’ve gone up just 2.6 percent from last April.
  • The current labor shortage is likely delaying even greater economic progress. There are currently near record highs when it comes to job openings and the number of people quitting jobs is also abnormally high.
  • Economists predict that the unemployment rate will likely continue to fall as the labor market tightens. It could be as low as 3.6 percent by next year.

Some economists are talking today about the disconnect between wages and unemployment. Wages still haven’t grown much, despite the fact that there is something of a labor shortage. Scott Brown, chief economist for Raymond James told the Wall Street Journal, “This is a bit of a puzzle.” But he added that a decline in labor unions might be impacting the lack of wage growth. He also wondered if employers opting into other perks, like signing bonuses, could be keeping a lid on annual compensation rates.

Wage growth remains somewhat stagnant, despite an abundance of jobs. That aside, the major takeaway from this month’s report is that unemployment is the lowest it’s been since 2000.

“The employment situation continues to surprise everyone,” Robert Frick, chief economist with Navy Federal Credit Union told CNN. “Getting down to 3.9 is quite a marker.”

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