Employers added about 164,000 jobs in April, up from last month's revised number of 135,000 jobs. The jobless rate, derived from a separate survey of households, fell to 3.9%, the lowest since December 2000, after six months at 4.1%. And the contraction in America's labor force will put limits on growth - and fiscal pressure on Social Security - unless we start implementing policies that make having children less hard for America's young people, and that allow more prime-age workers to enter the country through immigration.
The latest jobs report has gotten a lot of analysts, policymakers and talking heads once again asking whether the U.S.is at full employment. The "all jobs" year-over-year percentage change is now +1.6%, with services at +1.7% and manufacturing, +2.0%. The average work week was unchanged at 34.1 hours.
There's good reason to expect a further pickup in wage growth in coming months.
In the past three months the United States has added an average of roughly 208,000 jobs. That left the annual increase in average hourly earnings at 2.6 per cent. "Still, the potential for labor-force participation to increase as workers re-enter the workforce provides some additional supply that isn't necessarily apparent in the unemployment rate". Employment in manufacturing increased by 24,000 in April.
Some 236,000 USA workers left the workforce in April, which the Wall Street Journal suggests is the catalyst for the low unemployment headline number. The mining industry also continues to recover, adding 8,000 jobs in the month and 86,000 positions since the market low in October 2016. But until recently, they haven't gained much, which has puzzled many economists.
For workers, that means higher wages, and the April numbers were actually a bit disappointing on that front.
The report indicates another month of solid job growth for an economy that has been expanding for nearly nine years - the second-longest streak on record. They added 54,000 workers.
"The shortage of qualified workers is clearly holding back even stronger economic growth", NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said.
The 3.9% U-3 unemployment rate will stiffen the Federal Reserve's resolve to stay the course with its previously announced program to keep hiking interest rates incrementally but swiftly (i.e., three or four times this year). That's just slightly below the 68-year average of 63 percent.
It gets worse when you add the recently released first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data - which showed cooling expansion and anemic consumer economic activity.