Economic Indicators | Jobs and Unemployment

News from EPI Unemployment rate hits new low for the recovery, but for the wrong reasons

The big news in this morning’s jobs report is that the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, the first time it has gone below 4.0 percent since 2000. Unfortunately, this dip was accompanied by a fall in labor force participation. In other words, it fell for the “wrong” reasons—not because of a surge in the number of people getting jobs, but because of a rise in the number of people out of the labor force. Both the labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio ticked down 0.1 percentage points.

Turning to the payroll survey, the economy added 164,000 jobs last month. All told, average monthly job creation over the past year is 190,000. After a higher-than-expected February and a lower-than-expected March, April’s number is a little soft, but within a reasonable distance of recent trends.

Notably, nominal wage growth continues to fall short, rising only 2.6 percent over the year. This is clear evidence that despite the low unemployment rate, the economy is not yet at full employment.

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