Unemployment Falls to Historic 3.9 Percent Low in April

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

This morning’s jobs report revealed good news for U.S. workers in April, with employers adding another 164,000 new jobs to payrolls, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate down to 3.9 percent.

Today’s report marks the first time unemployment has ticked below 4 percent since December 2000, nearly 18 years ago. That’s good news for workers, as growing labor shortages in tech, skilled trades, and health care are putting more workers in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating for pay — we expect to see more upward pressure on wages throughout summer 2018 as a result.

However, as of April wage growth remains muted overall. Today’s report showed average hourly wages were up 2.6 percent from a year ago. That’s roughly in line with the slow pace of wage growth we’ve seen over the past year. In Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports, we recorded a slight uptick in wage growth in April, with certain key fields including e-commerce, health care, tech and some low-skilled roles seeing rising wage growth. However, American workers overall are still waiting for today’s robust labor market to translate into sustained average pay gains.

Today’s report marks a milestone for the economy: 106 months since the end of the Great Recession. That ties with the 1960s as the second longest economic expansion in U.S. history since the 1850s. If the economy reaches 120 months of steady growth, we’ll set a new record for the longest stretch without a recession in modern American history.

Despite fears of a looming trade war and tariffs on steel and aluminum, both manufacturing and construction added jobs to payrolls in April. The manufacturing sector added 24,000 new jobs, while construction added 17,000 jobs. One area of weakness that may be impacted by trade fears is motor vehicles and parts employers, who lost 900 jobs in April — possibly due to hiring slowdowns in response to trade uncertainty.

The top sectors adding jobs in April included professional and business services (which includes many tech employers) which added 54,000 new jobs, health care (+29,300 jobs), manufacturing (+24,000 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+18,000 jobs), and construction (+17,000 jobs). Only three sectors lost jobs in April: wholesale trade (-9,800 jobs), government (-4,000 jobs), and motor vehicles and parts (-900 jobs).

Today’s April jobs report is the 91st consecutive month the economy has added jobs, the longest streak on record since the BLS began reporting labor market figures in the 1930s. Despite a looming trade war, stock market volatility and rising interest rates, the U.S. economy remains strong and growing as we head into the summer months.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.