Hiring Remains Modest, Unemployment Rate Drops to 18-Year Low

May 04, 2018

Employers added 164,000 payroll jobs in April and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, a level not seen since the height of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the Vietnam War in 1969.
Pace of hiring has cooled a bit after employers added 324,000 jobs in February, but still remains fairly strong after almost nine years of economic growth, and March’s preliminary job estimate was revised up by 32,000.
Average weekly earnings increased a modest 2.9 percent over the past year, but some industries are seeing larger gains (e.g., construction 4.1 percent, financial activities 4.6 percent).
Job gains were widespread, with six industries counting for 61 percent of the increase in payroll jobs:
  • Professional and technical services (+25,800);
  • Administrative support services, including temporary help (+25,600);
  • Health care (+24,400);
  • Manufacturing (+24,000);
  • Bars and restaurants (+19,900); and
  • Construction (+17,000).
The U.S. employment outlook remains positive with manufacturers reporting the biggest growth in second quarter hiring plans, according to ManpowerGroup, and job openings remaining near their record high.  However, uncertainty over trade issues could constrain future job gains.