Saturday, May 9, 2015

Employers Added 223,000 Jobs In April And The Unemployment Rate Drops To 5.4 Percent

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in April. This solid gain suggests that the economy may be recovering after a stumble earlier this year. Additionally the Labor Department announced today that the unemployment rate has dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in March. This is the lowest rate the U.S. has seen since May 2008 (7 years), six months into the Great Recession.

Analysts believe that the pick-up in economic momentum that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to hike interest rates this year. This was a welcome sign to investors on Wall Street who cheered the report and drove major stock indexes rising more than 1 percent.

The report also suggested underlying strength in the economy despite the fact that the wage growth was again tepid and March payrolls were revised downward. The weakness in average hourly earnings is in stark contrast with other compensation measures that have suggested solid wage growth in recent months.

This is how the report breaks down...

  • Yields on U.S. Treasury debt slipped and futures contracts showed traders clinging to bets the U.S. central bank would raise rates from near zero this year as the dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies.

  • The drop in the unemployment rate pushed it within a whisker or two of the 5 percent to 5.2 percent range that most Fed officials consider consistent with full employment.

  • The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, rose 0.1 percentage point to 62.8 percent, although that was just up from a 36-year low.

  • A broad measure of joblessness that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can't find full-time employment fell to 10.8 percent - the lowest level since August 2008.

  • The number of long-term unemployed continued to fall as well.

  • Wages, however, were a weak spot with the average hourly earnings rising just 3 cents. While that took the year-on-year gain to 2.2 percent, it remained stuck in the range it has been in for the past few years.

  • Despite the broad-based acceleration in job growth in April, the one exception was the mining sector, where a plunge in crude oil prices has undercut energy production. The plus side is lowered gas prices at the pump.

  • Mining payrolls fell 15,000, logging the fourth straight month of declines. 

  • Manufacturing employment increased 1,000 after being flat in March as factories struggle with a strong dollar. 

  • Construction payrolls jumped 45,000 after falling 9,000 in March.

  • Private services employment rose 182,000 and government payrolls increased 10,000.

Here are some of the views of economic annalists about the jobs numbers…

Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. said…

"With the unemployment rate approaching full-employment levels it will only be a matter of time before wages start to rise at a somewhat swifter pace,"

Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays in New York said…

"We see this report as reducing concerns that weak first-quarter growth represents a loss of economic momentum,"

Michelle Girard, chief economist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut said…

"Even without wages or inflation picking up, we do not think the Fed will feel comfortable sitting at zero as the unemployment rate closes in on 5 percent,"

All in all a pretty solid joe number!

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