U.S. Economy on the Upswing: 223,000 Jobs Added in April; Unemployment Rate Decreases to 5.4 Percent
The U.S. economy is back on track in April after a slowdown in March, adding 223,000 new jobs across most major segments of the economy, with the exception of the energy and government sectors. Most job gains in April occurred from professional and business services (+62,000), healthcare (+45,000) and construction (+45,000). Stronger job gains also drove the unemployment rate down to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent, which marks a seven-year low.
Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adjusted its March numbers, which decreased job gains by 85,000 from the estimated 126,000 reported last month.
Employee Confidence Index (ECI)
Randstad’s U.S. Employee Confidence Index (ECI) reached 62.3 at the close of Q1’15, the highest level recorded. This indicates employed workers are exceptionally confident in the U.S. economy and overall job market.
U.S. Job Gains
Gaining 223,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April, the United States has now added 8.5 million new jobs since the start of 2012. In addition, the number of people who entered the labor force in search of work also increased.
U.S. Unemployment Rate
Stronger job gains drove the unemployment rate down to 5.4 percent in April from 5.5 percent in March to mark a seven-year low. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed individuals decreased by 0.8 percent and 1.1 million, respectively.
Unemployment Rate by Industry (%)
April’s hiring surge was largely due to employment increases in white-collar businesses and healthcare, with the professional and business services adding 62,000 jobs and healthcare providers adding 45,000 jobs. Over the year, healthcare has added 390,000 jobs.
Growth in Temp Jobs
The temporary help service sector added 16,100 jobs in April, bringing its total number of jobs to over 2.8 million. This sector’s market share jumped to 2.04 percent, hitting the highest mark ever.
Average Weekly Earnings
For the median full-time worker, weekly earnings are just up 1.5 percent in the past year, well below the 4.0 percent increase that occurred in the pre-Great Recession years when the unemployment rate was at or below 5.4 percent. Hourly wages for the average worker rose slightly in April to $24.87, but annual pay is rising no faster than it did three years ago.
The April employment report issued by the BLS is a positive indicator that the recent economic slowdown was temporary, rather than a deeper, long-term problem. In 13 of the last 14 months, American businesses have added at least 200,000 jobs per month, a period of hiring unseen in 15 years. While March showed a slowing of that pace, most economists believe with April’s stronger numbers, the U.S. economy is back on track.