📉 Hiring slows in April, healthcare dominates

📉 Hiring slows in April, healthcare dominates

Author: Mallory Vachon, Sr. Economist

May 6, 2024

This week, we are breaking down the latest “First Friday” jobs report.

U.S. businesses added 175,000 new jobs in April - below expectations for the first time in what feels like forever. But April's total is still robust by historical standards. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%, which means the labor market is still tight but getting tougher for job seekers. Wage growth cooled to 3.9% in April; but wages have been outpacing inflation for 12 months, providing workers some reprieve from rising prices.

Slower job growth, combined with wage growth below 4%, should be welcome signs for those hoping the Fed lowers interest rates later this year.

April 2024 Jobs Report

📊 Job Gains | Surprisingly below expectations

The 175,000 job added by U.S. employers in April is well-below the 240,000 projected by many economists. However, the hiring slowdown is not all bad news.

While February and March's totals were revised downward by a modest 22,000 jobs, headline numbers indicate a strong start to 2024.

Through the first four months of the year, we've added nearly 1 million jobs! This total already eclipses many annual forecasts.

April's job gains are in line with the average monthly rate forecasted by LaborIQ, and we are still projecting close to 2 million job gains this year.

🏥 Industries | Healthcare dominates... again

A common theme over the past several months has been the concentration of job gains to a few industries, specifically healthcare. In April, healthcare added 56,000 jobs, accounting for nearly one-third of all job gains. The top three industries in April - healthcare; trade, transportation, and utilities; and social assistance - accounted for 80% of all jobs added last month.

Headline numbers continue to look strong, but industry totals shed light on why the economy doesn't feel that way to many workers.

Most industries faced static growth in April. Notably, "white collar" jobs, in the information, professional and business, and financial sectors, collectively lost 2,000 jobs in April.

April 2024 Change in Industry Employment

💼 Unemployment Rate | Tougher market for job seekers

Unemployment ticked back up to 3.9% in April. The labor market remains tight by historical standards, and we are in the longest stretch of below-4% unemployment rates since the 1960s.

However, it is a tougher market for job seekers, especially those looking for "white collar" roles. For businesses, it may be easier to hire right now, but you may need to be open to candidates from other industries.

💸 Wages and compensation | Still top of mind for businesses and employees

Annual wage growth ticked down to 3.9% in April from 4.1% in March. This is the first month of sub-4% wage growth since the pandemic.

🌠May the (Labor) Force Be With You 🌠

In honor of Star Wars Day tomorrow, May 4, I asked some LaborIQ colleagues how their favorite Star Wars characters would react to the jobs report.

Yoda: Strong, the job numbers are, hmm? A bright future, it seems for the galaxy's economy.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: The force is strong with this economy. A job report to be proud of, we have.

Darth Vader: Ahh the jobs report. Impressive. Most Impressive. But remember, even in the labor force, there is no escape from the power of the dark side!

Jar Jar Binks: Meesa so happy-sa! Job report, it's a bombad one! Wesa all gonna be smiling like happy gungans!

Mallory Author Image - Chief Economist


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