The Labor Department reported that there were 263,000 jobs added in April, above the consensus expectation of 190,000. This marked the 103rd consecutive month of job growth. The latest six-month average is 200,000, less than last year’s 223,000 monthly average but still very strong for this stage of the economic expansion.
Revisions added 16,000 to the prior two months. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.
In April, employment in health care rose by 27,000. In the past year, health care has added 404,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate slipped back to 3.6% in April from 3.8% in March. This is the lowest rate in 50 years or since 1969. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes those who are working part time but would prefer full-time jobs and those that they have given up searching—the U-6 unemployment rate—remained at 7.3%. This was the lowest rate since 2000.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose in March by six cents to $27.77. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2%, down from 3.4% last month. For 2018, the year over year pace was 3.0% and in 2017 it was 2.6%.
The labor force participation rate, which is a measure of the share of working age people who are employed or looking for work fell to 62.8% in April from at 63.0% in March, very low but up from its cyclical low of 62.3% in 2015. The low rate at least partially reflecting the effects of an aging population.
This report, in combination with other recent data on economic activity, will support the Fed’s recent position of pausing interest rate increases.