Unemployment Hasn't Been This Low Since 1969

Hiring is stronger than expected in April
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2023 8:23 AM CDT
April Jobs Report Shows Surprising Strength
Construction workers install roofing on a high rise in Manhattan's financial district on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

America’s employers added a robust 253,000 jobs in April, evidence of a labor market that still shows surprising strength despite rising interest rates, chronically high inflation, and a banking crisis that could weaken the economy. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.4%, matching a 54-year low from 1969, per the AP. Last month’s hiring gain compared with 165,000 in March and 248,000 in February, and is at a level considered vigorous by historical standards. The April numbers came in stronger than expected, with forecasts calling for 180,000 new jobs, per CNBC.

  • Wages, another closely watched metric in regard to inflation, increased. Average hourly earnings were up 0.5% in April and 4.4% compared to last year. Both figures were higher than estimates of 0.3% and 4.2%. Friday's report didn't sway the markets much. Dow futures were up before the report came out, and they remained up afterward. The index was on track to open about 200 points up when the market opens.

At the staffing firm Robert Half, executive director Ryan Sutton still sees “pent-up demand’’ for workers. Applicants, not employers, still enjoy the advantage, he said: To attract and keep workers, he said, businesses—especially small ones—must offer flexible hours and the chance to work from home when possible. “Giving a little bit of schedule flexibility so that somebody might finish their work late or early so that they can take care of children and family and elderly parents—these are the things that the modern employee needs,’’ Sutton said. “To not offer those and to try to still have a 2019 business model of five days a week in an office—that’s going to put you at a disadvantage” in finding and retaining talent. (More unemployment stories.)

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