US adds more new jobs as jobless rate hits 49-year low

The United States had another giant month of job creation last month. There was strong hiring in the vast service sector and unemployment fell to a level not seen since 1969, the government reported yesterday.

The blockbuster report will help allay fears of a slowing economy and cheer President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election next year.

Employers scooped up workers in construction, healthcare, computer systems design, administrative support and other industries, adding a total of 263,000 net new positions for the month.

That was well above the result economists expected, and worker pay continued to climb.

The jobless rate fell two-tenths to 3.6 per cent but the decline was in part because the pool of workers shrank and fewer people were looking for jobs, pulling them out of the labour force.

Average hourly pay also climbed 3.2 per cent over April of last year, marking the ninth consecutive month with annual growth above 3 per cent, again outstripping inflation and boosting purchasing power for American pay cheques.

Compared with March, however, the increase in pay was only 0.2 per cent, shy of forecasts.

Yet the brisk pace of hiring should dim hopes among investors that the Federal Reserve will feel pressure to cut interest rates in the near term.

Hiring in the manufacturing sector was a weak spot, with durable goods employment flat and the auto sector continuing to shed jobs.

Business leaders increasingly say their number one challenge is finding enough people to fill job openings. One example is McLane Company, a large trucking and warehouse firm that is advertising for truck-driving jobs.

"The economy is good, but that's very difficult for employers," said Mr Joe Stagnaro, president of McLane's Pennsylvania operations. "The people you want to hire are employed by someone else."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'US adds more new jobs as jobless rate hits 49-year low'. Print Edition | Subscribe