The Labor Department announced on May 3, that the nation’s unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest point since 1969: 3.6%.
The United States economy posted a welcome addition of 263,000 jobs in April.
The new data notched a record of 103 consecutive months of job gains and signals that the current economy shows little sign of stalling.
The official unemployment rate has been at or below 4% for more than a year.
Most sectors were hiring, with large gains in business services, (76,000 jobs added), construction (33,000 jobs added) and health care (27,000 jobs added).
With the Census Bureau beginning to ramp up hiring ahead of the 2020 Census, economists were watching government employment growth. The federal government added 12,500 jobs in April, which likely included some boost from the Census Bureau but isn’t a large effect yet.
In fact, the United States has more job openings than unemployed people, a situation some economists call “full employment” since most job seekers are able to land a job.
Hispanic unemployment dropped to 4.2% in April, a record low since the Labor Department started measuring it in the 1970s.
Slightly disappointing was the fact that manufacturing employment has stalled.
“The job market looks good on about any measure,” Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank said. While the unemployment rate is the lowest in 50 years, he said a better measure is to look at the unemployment rate that includes people working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job. “That is low, but it’s only the lowest since 2000,” he said.
From the workers’ standpoint, low unemployment is forcing employers to raise pay and become more aggressive about hiring and training workers. Average hourly earnings rose 3.2% in the past year, well above inflation and lower wage workers enjoyed some of the largest gains as companies scrambled to fill jobs and many states have raised their minimum wage.
President Donald Trump tweeted on April 30, that the U.S. economy would go “up like a rocket” if the Fed slashed rates by a full percentage point.
The White House cheered the May 3 news as more proof that President Trump’s stimulative policies of tax cuts and increased government spending are helping more Americans gain from the robust economy.
The only negative note about the employment news came from Joe Stagnaro, president of McLane’s Pennsylvania operations.
“The people you want to hire are employed by someone else,” he said.