Although the headline number for job creation was below expectations, this was still a decent report. Some positives include more wage growth (see below), fewer part time workers for economic reasons, fewer long term unemployed, and a decline in U-6 (an alternative measure of underemployment).
A few numbers: Total employment is now 5.5 million above the pre-recession peak. Total employment is up 14.2 million from the employment recession low.
Private payroll employment increased 171,000 in April, while government employment declined 11,000 in April, mostly at the Federal level. Private employment is now 5.8 million above the pre-recession peak. Private employment is up 14.6 million from the recession low.
In April, the year-over-year change was 2.69 million jobs.
Employment-Population Ratio, 25 to 54 years old
Since the overall participation rate has declined recently due to cyclical (recession) and demographic (aging population, younger people staying in school) reasons, here is the employment-population ratio for the key working age group: 25 to 54 years old.
In the earlier period the participation rate for this group was trending up as women joined the labor force. Since the early ’90s, the participation rate moved more sideways, with a downward drift starting around ’00 – and with ups and downs related to the business cycle.
The 25 to 54 participation rate decreased in April to 81.2%, and the 25 to 54 employment population ratio decreased to 77.7%. The participation rate and employment population ratio for this group has increased sharply over the last several months.
The participation rate for this group might increase a little more (or at least stabilize for a couple of years) – although the participation rate has been trending down for this group since the late ’90s.
Average Hourly Earnings
This graph is based on “Average Hourly Earnings” from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) (aka “Establishment”) monthly employment report. Note: There are also two quarterly sources for earnings data: 1) “Hourly Compensation,” from the BLS’s Productivity and Costs; and 2) the Employment Cost Index which includes wage/salary and benefit compensation.
On a monthly basis, wages increased at a 3.8% annual rate in April.
The graph shows the nominal year-over-year change in “Average Hourly Earnings” for all private employees. Nominal wage growth was at 2.5% YoY in April. This series is noisy, however overall wage growth is trending up.
Note: CPI has been running under 2%, so there has been real wage growth.
Part Time for Economic Reasons
From the BLS report:
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged in April at 6.0 million and has shown little movement since November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
The number of persons working part time for economic reasons decreased in April. This level suggests slack still in the labor market.
These workers are included in the alternate measure of labor underutilization (U-6) that decreased to 9.7% in April.
Unemployed over 26 Weeks
According to the BLS, there are 2.063 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job. This was up from 2.213 million in March.
This is generally trending down, but is still high.
There are still signs of slack (as example, part time workers for economic reasons and elevated U-6), but there also signs the labor market is tightening (decline in long term unemployed, decline in part time workers, slight pickup in wages). Overall this was a decent report.