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Hiring slowed in April as robust job market cools

Despite recent strength of the job market and low unemployment, a plurality of Americans say their financial situation is getting worse.
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Posted at 9:12 AM, May 03, 2024

The U.S. added 175,000 jobs during the month of April, which indicated a cooling of what has been a red-hot job market, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. 

In the last 12 months, the U.S. has averaged 257,000 new jobs per month, bringing the total number of U.S. non-farm jobs to 158.3 million.

However, April's job figures were still solid by recent historical standards. In the last decade, the U.S. averaged about 164,900 new jobs per month.

The recent strength of the job market has kept unemployment at 3.9%, marking 27 consecutive months it's been below 4%, the longest such period of low unemployment in more than five decades.

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In April, the construction industry gained 9,000 jobs, down significantly from the 39,000 jobs the sector added in March. The manufacturing industry, however, which lost 10,000 jobs from January through March, regained 8,000 positions in April.

Average hourly wages increased 7 cents in April to $34.75. Workers are making an average of $1.31 more than a year ago. Average weekly wages were $1,192 in April, up from $1,147 a year ago. The 3.9% increase in wages is slightly outpacing inflation. As of March, the consumer price index was up 3.5% compared to a year earlier.

While employment figures remain strong, not all Americans say they are reaping the benefits. A poll released this week by Gallup found that 47% of Americans say their economic situation is getting worse, compared to 43% who say it is getting better.

This week's poll marked the third straight year in which more Americans said their economic situation was declining rather than improving. In 2022, 50% of Americans said their financial position was worsening, compared to 37% who said it was improving.

The same poll found that 41% of Americans say that inflation is the most important financial situation they face. In 2021, just 8% cited inflation.

President Joe Biden, facing a tough reelection bid, is trying to win over Americans who are skeptical that the economy is improving.

"When I took office, I inherited an economy on the brink, with the worst economic crisis in a century," President Biden said. "I had a plan to turn our country around and build our economy from the middle out and the bottom up. Now we are seeing that plan in action, with well over 15 million jobs created since I took office, working-age women employed at a record high rate, wages rising faster than prices, and unemployment below 4 percent for a record 27 months in a row."

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, gave a different reaction to the job numbers before entering a New York courtroom for his ongoing hush money trial.

"The job numbers just came out, and they're horrible and, and I say that not happily, I say that very unhappily," he said. "It's just these people are destroying our country. Here's another sign of it. So, as you probably know, before I did, the job numbers came out they're really, really low, really bad. Our economy is bad and now it's starting to show. So you'll see and it will only get worse."