Anderson Economic Group Work

May: Cristina Benton’s monthly commentary on the employment report

The labor market is getting even tighter. Surprisingly, today’s report showed that average hourly earnings were just slightly above the prior month, and rose only 2.6% in April from a year earlier. The lower unemployment rate coupled with shortages of skilled workers reflects a very competitive job market which could hinder businesses’ efforts to meet demand and expand their operations.

Looking forward, uncertainty regarding NAFTA negotiations, steel and aluminum tariffs, the price of raw materials, economic tensions with China, and interest rate increases, may affect staffing and expansion plans at U.S. businesses as well as consumer demand.

The most recent employment report released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 %, after staying unchanged for six consecutive months at 4.1%. This is the lowest employment rate since 2000. The unemployment rate for adult women declined to 3.5 percent in April, while the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), 16-19 years old teenagers (12.9 percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (6.6 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.8 percent) showed little change.

The U.S. economy continued its payroll growth in April adding 164,000 jobs. This is weaker than expected and a slower growth pace than in the prior months, but relatively normal as the U.S. economy continues to expand in its nine year. This payroll growth reflects employment gains in the following sectors: professional and business services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.