April Jobs Report Shows Growth In US Still Strong: Latest Update

The job market continues to defy gravity.

Employers added 253,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported Friday, reversing a cooling trend seen in the first quarter that is expected to continue.

The unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, down from 3.5 percent in March, matching the level in January, the lowest since 1969.

Higher-than-expected job gains further complicate the Fed’s potential shift toward a pause in interest rate increases. Bank President Jerome H. Powell said on Wednesday that the central bank may continue to raise interest rates if new data shows the economy hasn’t been slowing enough to keep rates low.

“Every time we project some employment growth projections, the job market has exceeded expectations,” said Mervyn Jabbaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas.

Downward revisions for the past two months have beneficially changed the spring employment picture, shedding a total of 149,000 jobs. That means the April number is below the average of 290,000 jobs added over the past six months, but a re-acceleration from the 165,000 jobs added in March.

Job growth was broad across the economy, even if it fell short of the staggering numbers for 2022, when the nation was rapidly emerging from a deep pandemic deficit. Leisure and hospitality added 31,000 jobs, down from an average of 73,000 over the past six months, but a further step toward their early 2020 highs.

Since early 2021, the labor market has been uncharacteristically tight as employers struggled to reverse sudden mass layoffs and navigate huge shifts in demand for goods and services. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since the 1960s. Wages at the bottom of the wage scale have risen faster than they have been in decades.

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All of this has benefited groups that have historically been at a disadvantage in the labor market. The unemployment rate for black Americans hit an all-time low in April, at 4.7%, and the gap between the unemployment rates between whites and blacks. It was also the smallest measurement ever,The percentage of people of working age participating in the labor market reached 83.3%, the highest level since 2008.

In recent months, this extraordinary disparity between supply and demand for workers has appeared to be in equilibrium. Job advertisements, which reached nearly twice the number of available workers, fell in the first quarter. The immigration boom also eased labor shortages, particularly in areas such as entertainment, hospitality, and health care, allowing those to continue to grow rapidly.

“I think one of the clearest effects we’ve seen from increased work visa flows is an easing of supply restrictions and an increase in participation,” said Courtney Schubert, an economist at consulting firm MacroPolicy Perspectives. She said jobs held by immigrants may continue to support employment in the summer months, when seasonal workers are hired at parks and resorts.

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