US Unemployment Rate Now Lowest Since 1969

Many economists predict a continued strengthening economy, while others advise caution.

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On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported some good news. For the 103rd straight month, the U.S. added more jobs, reinforcing signs of a strengthening economy.

Workplaces added 78,000 more jobs than expected, rounding the number of jobs added in April to 263,000. Economist predictions fell short of the mark, which is good news for workers.

The current unemployment rate is now 3.6 percent, the lowest since fifty years ago in 1969 when unemployment was 3.7 percent.

Good signs could be seen all around in the most recently released labor report. Hourly wages were up by 3.2 percent on average and soared well above the 1.9 percent rise in inflation. This spelled out a surplus for wage earners.

The construction sector hired the most people in April, amounting to an additional 33,000 jobs. Health care also saw new gains. It added 27,000 jobs to the health care sector.

Some parts of the service industry also came in strong, adding an additional 25,000 jobs, mostly in the restaurant sector.

Meanwhile, the retail sector and the auto industry didn’t make out as well. Major stores and auto plants have been closing their doors as job workers in those sectors lose jobs. But, things could be worse. There are fewer workers in those industries at this time, meaning less competition for open jobs.

Jim Baird, a chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial, said “Job creation remains solid, and should provide continued support for consumer spending sufficient to keep the economy on a solid growth path.”

But some economists urge caution in the coming months. Michael Pearce, a senior US economist for Capital Economics, points out there are signs of weaknesses.

“The labor market is not quite as strong as that decent headline gain implies. We still expect a slowdown in economic growth over the rest of the year to drag payroll employment growth lower,” Pearce noted.

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