The U.S. economy added more jobs in April and the unemployment rate dropped slightly.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent last month, according to new figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the past 13 months, unemployment has remained between 3.4 percent and 3.7 percent, showing the strength of the labor market.
The strong labor market has complicated the Federal Reserve’s efforts to bring down inflation, which remained at 5 percent in March. This week the Federal Reserve announced a 10th straight interest rate hike, with an increase of 25 basis points. The current federal target rate of 5 to 5.25 is the highest since 2007.
The 5.7 million unemployed people are outpaced by job openings. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this week there are 1.6 job openings for every unemployed person.
The labor participation rate is at 62.6 percent and continues to trail the pre-pandemic level of 63.3 percent.
In April, the economy added 253,000 jobs, which is slightly behind recent trends.
“Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 253,000 in April, compared with the average monthly gain of 290,000 over the prior six months,” said the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics release.
Professional and business services added 43,000 jobs, a sharp increase from the 25,000 the sector had averaged in the previous six months.
Healthcare hiring slowed a bit from the 47,000 average gain to 40,000 last month.
Leisure and hospitality jobs continued to rise, with 31,000 added. Social assistance, financial activities and government employment all added between 23,000 and 25,000 jobs.
Average earnings rose by 16 cents to $33.36 per hour in April. It was to $33.18 in March.
“Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.4 percent,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted.
The average workweek remained at 34.4 hours in April. The workweek in the manufacturing sector stayed at 40.2 hours with overtime at 2.9 hours.