US Non-farm Payrolls Increase by 211,000 in April

After a tepid March report, US employment accelerated in April with 211,000 jobs created according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate fell to 4.4% from 4.5% in March, a historically low rate of unemployment. The last time the US unemployment rate was this low was May of 2007.

US unemployment rate, 2007-2017. Source: BLS.

While the unemployment rate has been falling since 2009, many commentators and economists have raised concerns about the also falling labor force participation rate – or the percentage of adults working or looking for a job. That metric is now firming and in April was 62.9%, compared to 63.0% in March and 62.8% one year earlier.

US Labor Force Participation Rate, 2007-2017. Source: BLS.

The broadest measure of the unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and those working part-time for economic reasons fell to 8.6% in April from 8.9% in March. Last April the figure was 9.7%.

Perhaps most encouragingly, wage growth is also accelerating. Average hourly earnings in March increased by 2.6% and are now rising at their fastest pace in a decade, giving credibility to the Federal Reserve’s conviction that interest rates can be raised throughout the remainder of the year without endangering the growth of the economy.

While leisure and hospitality (+55,000) and food services (+26,000) supported part of the job gains, areas of the economy which traditionally pay more were also strong – health care jobs increased by 37,000, financial services by 19,000, mining by 9,000, and professional and business services by 39,000.

While the overall unemployment rate was 4.4%; it was 3.2% among Asian Americans, 3.8% among white Americans, 5.2% among Hispanic Americans, and 7.9% among African Americans.

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