The running average for job creation for the months of January, February and March 2018 in the USA came in at about 208000. Taken over a longer period, over the last year the average figure was approximately 190000. So, viewed against this backdrop, the job creation figure for April of 16400 is clearly a relatively weak performance. The actual performance fell short of expectations which predicted that 190000 jobs would be created in April.
The US economy has managed to create jobs every month since 2011 (practically marking the end of the Global Financial Crisis in the USA in employment terms). However, the March figure came in at 103000 and has been revised upwards by 32000 to 135000, so there have been two consecutive months of relatively week growth figures.
Despite the decline in the job creation level, unemployment eased down from 4% to 3.9% in April. The official unemployment figure is the lowest official unemployment level in the USA since 2000. This reflects the fact that the numbers actively seeking employment and claiming benefits also eased.
Given the low level of unemployment in the USA, there ought to be increasing pressure for wage growth as employers need to pay more to retain existing staff and recruit new talent. However, private sector wage growth was modest at 2.6% in the year to April, pushing average hourly wages up to $26.84. Over a shorter time frame, wage growth between March and April 2018 came in at just 0.1% which suggests that employers didn’t have to improve their job offers much to get the staff they needed. US inflation stood at 2.4% year-on-year for March, so wages are slightly ahead of inflation currently.
On a positive note, April’s job creation was broad based with gains in the manufacturing, health care, business services and professional sectors.