This morning’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed the addition of 263,000 jobs to public and private non-farm payrolls. The tally far exceeded economists’ forecasts of 185,000 jobs added.
“Growth will slow but there’s very little in the data flow to suggest a recession is around the corner,” said Michael Gapen, chief United States economist at Barclays, speaking with The New York Times. “Employment growth is solid.”
He continued, “Some people are tempted to say slow growth is fragile. We’ve been on the other side, saying that slow growth is durable.”
The unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent. But as senior economist Elise Gould noted at The Economic Policy Institute, it did so for the “wrong” reasons:
The unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, which was unfortunately accompanied by a drop in labor force participation. As a result, the unemployment rate fell for the “wrong” reasons—more people leaving the labor force as opposed to getting a job. The overall labor force participation rate (LFPR) has dropped 0.2 percentage points for two months running, and now sits where it was exactly a year ago at 62.8 percent.
Even looking only at the prime-age population, the labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio have “ticked down slightly,” Gould wrote, “though both remain above their levels from last year at this time.”
Where Jobs Are Growing
Several industries added jobs last month, including:
- Business and professional services (+76,000 jobs)
- Construction (+33,000 jobs)
- Health care (+27,000 jobs)
- Social assistance (+26,000 jobs)
- Financial activities (+12,000 jobs)
The report noted, “Manufacturing employment changed little for the third month in a row (+4,000 in April).” Other industries were little changed for the month, including mining, wholesale trade, leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, government and information.
Average hourly earnings increased 6 cents to $27.77. The PayScale Index, which tracks the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, showed that wages increased 0.6 year-over-year for Q1 2019. However, real wages have declined 9 percent since 2006.
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