Modest Job Gains in April


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the Employment Situation for April 2018. In April, job gains increased by 164,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest rate since 2001.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000 in April, slightly faster than the increase of 135,000 jobs in March. The March increase was revised up from its original estimate of a 103,000 increase. The average job growth was 200,000 for the first four months in 2018, higher than last year’s average of 182,000. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9% in April, after six consecutive months at 4.1%.

Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings increased by 2.6% in April. As shown in the figure below, the current unemployment rate is lower than the pre-recession level in 2007, meanwhile, growth of average hourly earnings remains below rates recorded 10 years ago. Since reaching 2.8% in January 2018, lower rates of earnings growth have been recorded in subsequent months.

Monthly employment data released by the BLS Establishment Survey indicates that construction rose by 17,000 jobs in April, after the 10,000 decline in March.

Residential construction employment is now 2.80 million, broken down as 785,000 builders and 2 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction is 14,717 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers have added 125,500 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 818,300 positions.

In April, the unemployment rate for construction workers rose to 6.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis, after a 5.9% in March. After reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, the unemployment rate for the construction sector has been trending downwards and remains historically low.

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