Unemployment Falls to 3.8 Percent in May, Wage Growth Remains Modest
Unemployment Falls to 3.8 Percent in May, Wage Growth Remains Modest
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04 June, 2018, 06:52
Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure for Texas on Thursday, Trump spoke glowingly about the "best unemployment we've had in many, many decades", though it's unclear if he was just speaking generally about the state of the economy or was speaking specifically to the content of the May report.
Austan Goolsbee, an economic adviser under President Barack Obama, said the president has access to the report but normally doesn't talk about it publicly because doing so might influence financial markets, adding Trump may have broken the law. The jobless rate is now where the Fed forecast it would be by the end of this year.
Unemployment figures can be deceiving, as they do not include those who haven't sought a job over the previous four weeks.
Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm, says it now foresees the economy expanding at a robust 4 percent annual pace in the April-June quarter, which would be the fastest in almost four years.
Average hourly earnings rose eight cents, or 0.3 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in April. Most economists expect the momentum to continue, but a deeper drop in the unemployment rate or a big increase in average hourly earnings would stoke fears of inflation and, in turn, a more hawkish Federal Reserve.
The strong employment report added to a string of upbeat economic data, including consumer spending, industrial production and construction spending, that have suggested economic growth was regaining speed early in the second quarter after slowing at the beginning of the year.
Some economists remain concerned that the Trump administration's aggressive actions on trade could hamper growth.
Inflation is now running just below the Fed's 2% target. "It's enough to keep the Fed on track to hike" interest rates three more times this year, he said. But before that you have to go back to the late 1960s to find a time the unemployment rate was lower. Stock futures, bond yields and the value of the dollar all jumped higher immediately after his tweet. Gould wrote that is an indication that, notwithstanding the low unemployment rate, there remains a large number of people on the sidelines who are not counted in the official number. And employers have added jobs every month for seven and a half years, a record. Though the labor market is viewed as being close to or at full employment, there is still some slack remaining.
For now, the solid hiring data coincides with other evidence that the economy is on firm footing after a brief slowdown in the first three months of the year.
The trend in hours is also not consistent with a tight labor market. During the recession and recovery, that distinction was crucial: The official unemployment rate ignored millions of people who had abandoned their job searches as hopeless.
Job openings are at a record high, and businesses are hungry for workers. Its contacts reported difficulty filling positions across skill levels. Construction payrolls increased by 25,000 after rising by 21,000 jobs in April.
Employers added 233,000 jobs in May, up from 159,000 in April, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Shortly after the start of trading, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its report on activity in the manufacturing sector in the month of May.
In the midst of all that hiring, the Trump administration has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada.
Even mining, which was on the ropes a couple of years ago, has begun to recover.
The unemployment rate among African-Americans and Asian-Americans has been steadily declining. Professional and business services took on 31,000 workers.
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